ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 143

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PM denies Hamas reestablishing itself in northern Gaza; says he’s made no commitments on Palestinian prisoner releases

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a press conference in Jerusalem, February 7, 2024. (Sam Sokol / Times of Israel)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a press conference in Jerusalem, February 7, 2024. (Sam Sokol / Times of Israel)

After finishing his prepared remarks, Netanyahu is asked how there will be an absolute victory if Israel is currently withdrawing forces, aid continues to enter Gaza and Hamas is reestablishing itself in northern Gaza.

“This is a process that takes time,” he responds.

Netanyahu denies Hamas is reestablishing itself in northern Gaza, repeating that the military has dismantled the terror group’s brigades and military chain of command there. Now the IDF is engaged in ongoing raids to tackle the remaining splinters. Gradually, the need for such raids will be reduced.

“There is no alternative to the military collapse [of Hamas]. There will not be a civilian collapse [of Hamas rule] without a military one,” he says.

He again dismisses the demands made by Hamas for a hostage deal and, asked whether Israel has promised to free Palestinian security prisoners with blood on their hands, says Israel “has not committed to anything.”

Specifically, Israel has not committed to the kinds of ratios of Palestinian security prisoners to be freed in exchange for hostages, or to the kinds of prisoners who would go free.

“There is supposed to be some kind of negotiation via the intermediaries. But right now, given what I see from the response by Hamas [to the Israel-backed framework for talks on a deal], they’re not there.”

He denies reports of increased humanitarian aid to Gaza. He says Israel’s security establishment assesses that “up to 60 percent of the humanitarian aid is taken by Hamas.” And he says President Biden said in the past that if that were to happen, the aid should be stopped — which Israel has said too.

He says he asked the security establishment to propose in the next few days ways to stop or minimize this from happening.

Asked about the sense that the National Unity Party of Benny Gantz and Gadi Eisenkot is readying to bolt the coalition, he criticizes those who speak about unity but talk and act against it.

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