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.
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.