Netanyahu: Ratio of Hamas combatants to Gazan civilians killed in ongoing war is about 1:1

Lazar Berman is The Times of Israel's diplomatic reporter

Netanyahu says the ratio of Hamas combatants to Gazan civilians killed in the ongoing war is about one to one.

“Fourteen thousand have been killed, combatants, and, probably around sixteen thousand civilians have been killed,” he tells Dan Senor on the Call Me Back podcast.

He says that condemnation of Israel’s conduct of the war is incompatible with supporting Israel’s right to go after Hamas: “You cannot say that you support the right of Israel to defend itself and then condemn it when it seeks to exercise that right.”

Netanyahu says that Israel will operate in Gaza for a long time to prevent Hamas from reemerging.

“You don’t have to reoccupy it. You just have to demilitarize it actively. And you know, the distances are so small. So you go in, you go out. Or you remain where you have to be.”

The next stage is to find another civil administration in Gaza and his hope, says Netanyahu, is to use locals unaffiliated with Hamas with the support of Arab states.

But none of that will happen, argues Netanyahu, until Hamas is defeated.

“No one’s going to come in, until they know that you either destroyed Hamas, or you’re about to destroy Hamas. And that’s a certainty. Because, because if they think Hamas is going to emerge from the rubble and retake Gaza, they’re not going to commit suicide.”

Netanyahu has come under criticism for being unwilling to articulate and advance a clear plan for an alternative government to Hamas in Gaza.

Once Hamas is eliminated, says Netanyahu, new opportunities will present themselves, including the expansion of the Abraham Accords.

“That is not when every last Hamas fighter disappears, but when we vanquish them, destroy their organized battalions, and mop up the remaining places, and that’s going to take some time, but we can do it,” he pledges.

“We’re actually quite close to achieving that. We’re very close to achieving the destruction of the remaining Hamas battalions.”

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