Netanyahu says he’s rebuffing heavy international pressure to halt war in Gaza, defends allowing entry of fuel

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at a televised press conference on November 18, 2023 (GPO Screenshot)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at a televised press conference on November 18, 2023 (GPO Screenshot)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says there is heavy international pressure against Israel’s war against Hamas.

He says Israel has “eliminated thousands of terrorists,” including senior commanders, and destroyed command posts and tunnels. “We move forward with full force,” he says.

While Israel has the support of the US and others for the ongoing war, “there is growing pressure against us, in the US and elsewhere,” he says.

In comments seemingly responding to anger within his coalition and parts of the electorate against Israel allowing fuel into the Strip despite having vowed not to, Netanyahu lists all the ways Israel has ignored demands from many quarters, including pressure not to launch its ground invasion, not to go into Gaza City, and then not to go into Shifa Hospital. Israel was undeterred, he says.

“They also pressed us to agree to a full ceasefire. We refused. And I made clear that we would only agree to a temporary ceasefire and only for the return of our hostages.”

He adds: “Together with my colleagues, I rebuff the pressure and make clear to the world: We will continue to fight until victory. Until we destroy Hamas. And until we bring our hostages home.”

“We are insisting on our essential security and diplomatic interests… in the face of heavy opposition. When our enemies and our friends recognize our firm stance, when they hear it in international media interviews, and in discussions with leaders, we attain the necessary room for maneuver to continue the operation. This cannot be taken for granted.”

Netanyahu says that he greatly “appreciates the support of the US” and says it is sending constant shipments of crucial weaponry and defense equipment, and notes the bipartisan support in the House and Senate.

He says Israel’s leadership is in daily contact with the White House, and “I give US media interviews almost every day to persuade the American public of the rightness of our path.”

He also hails this week’s unprecedentedly large pro-Israel rally in Washington, DC.

He says he speaks every day with other international leaders. All this and more, he says, ensures Israel continues to receive the military support it needs from the US, and thwarts international initiatives against Israel that would endanger the continuation of the fighting.

He notes that the IDF always follows “the laws of war. That’s how our army operates, the world’s most moral army.”

He says that humanitarian aid to Gaza is crucial to continue the war against Hamas, and says without it there would be less international support for Israel’s military campaign. “Even our best friends would be hard-pressed to maintain their support for us in the long-term and that would make it hard for us to complete the war,” he says.

“The IDF and the Shin Bet recommended that the cabinet accept the American request to allow two fuel tankers a day to enter the southern Gaza Strip,” he says, and the cabinet backed this unanimously.

“This is a minimal emergency quantity of fuel — fuel to operate water pumps and sewage pumps, without which there would be an eruption of epidemics that would harm residents of the Strip and IDF soldiers.”

He sets out three war missions that will be fulfilled: “Complete victory, to destroy Hamas. To return the hostages. And to ensure that after victory, Gaza will never again constitute a threat to Israeli citizens. I will not allow into Gaza any factor that supports terrorism, pays terrorists or their families, or educates their children to murder Jews and [to seek] the destruction of Israel,” he vows. “Without that revolution in the civilian governance of Gaza, it’s only a matter of time until Gaza returns to terror, and I won’t agree to that.”

An additional condition, he says: “The IDF will have complete freedom of action in Gaza against any threat. That is the only way to guarantee the demilitarization of Gaza.”

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