Netanyahu tells troops there’s ‘no substitute for complete victory over our enemies’

Prime minister marks Tu Bishvat with visit to Gaza Division base, plants tree to honor fallen soldiers and vows to eliminate Hamas: ‘We will be here, and they will not’

Michael Horovitz is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in black, plants a tree at a military base near Gaza on January 25, 2024. (Amos Ben Gershom / GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in black, plants a tree at a military base near Gaza on January 25, 2024. (Amos Ben Gershom / GPO)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday there was “no substitute” for a decisive victory over the country’s enemies, during a Tu Bishvat visit to the Israel Defense Forces’ Gaza Division headquarters, which was battered during Hamas’s October 7 massacre.

The prime minister planted a tree with soldiers of the Border Defense Corps’s 414th unit, in honor of those in the unit and the Gaza Division who were killed during the onslaught and the ensuing war, the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement.

“Here, in this place, on October 7, soldiers fell, the best of our sons and daughters. May God avenge them,” he told the troops. “And today we plant trees in this bloody and grief-filled soil. Trees that live in their memory.”

The Jewish holiday of Tu Bishvat, or the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Shvat, is also called the Jewish new year for trees, and is marked by a festive meal featuring fruits and nuts. The day also doubles as an ecological awareness day in Israel, marked by tree planting.

Cabinet Secretary Tzachi Braverman and the head of the Gaza division Maj. Gen. Amit Yamin accompanied Netanyahu on the visit, close to the Gaza border.

“Hamas came to uproot us; we will uproot it. Hamas came to exterminate us; we will exterminate it. We will deepen our roots in our land; we will uproot our enemies. We will be here, and they will not,” Netanyahu said.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visiting a military base near Gaza on January 25, 2024. (Amos Ben Gershom / GPO)

The prime minister stressed the importance of continuing to build communities and revive those that were destroyed in the October 7 massacre, making them even more successful than they were.

“A decisive victory means the elimination of Hamas, the return of our hostages, and we won’t give up that goal,” he said.

“Therefore, on Tu Bishvat, here, next to the Gaza Strip, I say in the clearest way, there is no substitute for deepening our roots [in this land] and no substitute for complete victory over our enemies.”

Netanyahu has been adamant about achieving in full the goals of the war, including destroying Hamas and rescuing the hostages, though some senior IDF officers and war cabinet minister Gadi Eisenkot have described those objectives as fantasies.

War erupted on October 7, when Hamas-led terrorists rampaged through southern communities, murdering close to 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and kidnapping 253 to Gaza.

read more:
Never miss breaking news on Israel
Get notifications to stay updated
You're subscribed
Register for free
and continue reading
Registering also lets you comment on articles and helps us improve your experience. It takes just a few seconds.
Already registered? Enter your email to sign in.
Please use the following structure:
Or Continue with
By registering you agree to the terms and conditions. Once registered, you’ll receive our Daily Edition email for free.
Register to continue
Or Continue with
Log in to continue
Sign in or Register
Or Continue with
check your email
Check your email
We sent an email to you at .
It has a link that will sign you in.