ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 142

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Netanyahu: Victory in Gaza ‘within reach’; no surrender to Hamas’s delusional demands

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu holds a press conference in Jerusalem, February 7, 2023. (Screenshot)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu holds a press conference in Jerusalem, February 7, 2023. (Screenshot)

At a press conference in Jerusalem, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu again promises a “crushing victory” over Hamas.

“We are on the way to complete victory. The victory is within reach,” he says, predicting that the war will be won in a “matter of months” not years or decades.

“I set absolute victory as the goal from the start,” he says, and “we won’t settle for any less than that.”

He reiterates the goals of the war: Destroying Hamas, returning the hostages, and ensuring Gaza no longer poses a threat to Israel, and says the IDF is moving “systematically” to achieve them.

Netanyahu calls the military’s accomplishments in the offensive against Hamas “unprecedented,” touting the damage that Israel has inflicted on the Gaza-ruling terror group.

He decries the “experts,” TV commentators and those in the international community who predicted that the ground offensive would fail, warned against sending troops into Gaza City, cautioned against tackling Hamas in and near hospitals, and said the IDF should not dare to enter Hamas’s tunnels.

Israel’s “valiant fighters,” he says, have “proved that everything they told us was impossible was possible… and more.”

20,000 Hamas fighters are dead or injured, he says — more than half the Hamas fighting force, with 18 of 24 battalions no longer functional. And he says the IDF is systematically destroying the underground network where Hamas is hiding.

The premier says that after Khan Younis, “the main Hamas stronghold,” the IDF is readying to fight next in Rafah. He says he has ordered the IDF to operate there, and in the two central Gaza refugee camps — in accordance with international law, and with provisions for noncombatants to safely leave the war zone.

“We will continue until the end,” he says. “There is no other solution besides absolute victory.”

Were Hamas to survive in Gaza, “it will only be a matter of time until the next massacre,” he warns, and the Iran-led axis of terror would strengthen.

Destroying Hamas will send a message to the entire Middle East and enable Israel to widen the circle of peace, he says.

Netanyahu says he told visiting US Secretary of State Antony Blinken today that Israel is “within touching distance of absolute victory,” and that Hamas’s defeat will be the “victory of the entire free world.

He vows that the return of the hostages remains a top priority, telling the families of the hostages that he never stops thinking about or working for the release of their loved ones.

He argues that “continued military pressure is an essential condition for the freeing of the hostages.”

Relating publicly for the first time to Hamas’s conditions for a new hostage deal, Netanyahu says: “Surrender to Hamas’s delusional demands, that we’ve just heard, not only would not bring about the freedom of the hostages, it would only invite an additional slaughter; it would invite disaster for Israel that no Israeli citizens want.”

“The ‘day after’ is the day after Hamas,” he adds, saying that he told Blinken that after Hamas is destroyed, Israel will “ensure that Gaza is demilitarized forever.”

History has proven that only Israel and its security forces can ensure this. “What this means is that Israel will be and will act in Gaza wherever and whenever it needs to, to ensure that terror does not again raise its head.”

The civil governance of Gaza cannot be carried out by supporters of terror, he adds.

“This also means that we will have to replace UNRWA. I have ordered that this process begin, and updated Secretary Blinken about this today.”

The Middle East is at a fateful turning point, he says, between light and dark. Iran and the forces of darkness will not be allowed to prevail, he says, “and the absolute victory over Hamas in Gaza is a condition for this.”

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