Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded to growing pressure from around the world on Saturday night by telling them that Israel would not be pressured into easing the war on Hamas, adding: “Our war is your war.”
Netanyahu warned that what Hamas represented — radical Islamic terror in the mould of the so-called “Islamic State” (or ISIS, or Daesh) — was a threat to the entire civilized world, especially to the Arab world, and that it had to be destroyed, or the threat would spread.
He spoke after a day in which Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi had addressed a gathering of Muslim and Arab nations in Saudi Arabia — which had been, until recently, on track to a peace agreement with Israel — and told them that the only solution was to destroy Israel completely. He echoed the words of the pro-Palestinian protesters on university campuses, saying “Palestine” must be created “from the river to the sea,” implying the removal of Israel and the genocide of its non-Arab population.
Netanyahu said that the “axis of terror” represented by Iran was a threat to the stability of the Arab world as well as Israel.
Addressing media reports on pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel protests in the U.S., Netanyahu reminded Israelis that the vast majority of the American public supported Israel in its struggle against terror. He appealed to Americans, too, to understand that it also had a stake in Israel’s goal of destroying Hamas, because otherwise terror would also be a renewed threat to the United States.
Netanyahu told Israelis that the goal of the war remained to eliminate Hamas, while at the same time doing everything possible to free the 239 hostages still held by Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza. Both groups are backed by Iran.
“We will continue until victory,” he said, noting that Israeli soldiers had killed thousands of Hamas terrorists, and would remove it forever from Gaza. “It has nowhere secure left to hide. … All members of Hamas are dead men walking.”
Netanyahu also added that the return of the 239 hostages held by Hamas was “the central goal of the war” and the top item on his daily agenda.
He said all questions about the future of Gaza would depend on the destruction of Hamas.
“If we want peace, we must destroy Hamas. If we want security, we must destroy Hamas … It is what Israel is required to do and it is what Israel will do,” he said.
He said that the Israeli military would manage security in Gaza in the future, and had to do so to protect Israelis from terror.
Defense minister Yoav Gallant also addressed the nation, telling Israelis that he had toured the forces in the south and came away inspired by the degree of cooperation among the various branches of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), and by the soldiers’ devotion. He recounted that they had told him: “If it takes a month, if it takes two months, if it takes a year — we want to finish the mission.”
He noted that the hostages currently being held by Hamas were hearing the sound of the tank shells, and taking hope.
He also warned that Iran-backed Hezbollah in Lebanon was playing a dangerous game by provoking Israel with rockets and drones in the northern part of the country. He warned that Israeli pilots were “waiting in the cockpit, ready for any order.”
And he added a warning to the citizens of Lebanon: “If [Hezbollah leader Hassan] Nasrallah will make a mistake, the fate of Beirut will be like the fate of Gaza.”
Benny Gantz, the leader of the opposition Blue and White Party, which has joined a government of emergency unity, said that the war had proven that Israel’s own “TikTok generation” was fully capable of delivering the “best answer” to terrorist provocation.
He added that the government “embraced” all of the protesters who had shown up at rallies around the country to demand action to free the hostages, empathizing with their concerns and reiterating the government’s commitment to bringing them home.
He reminded the world of the atrocities committed by Iran and Syria in the past several years, mocking their criticisms of Israel and telling the world that Israel would not be lectured by such people.
He recalled a visit to the home of Lt. Col. Salman Habaka and other fallen soldiers, and spoke about how proud their mothers and their families had been of their sacrifices for the nation.
Earlier in the evening, IDF spokesman Daniel Hagari appeared on television to deliver a message in both Hebrew and English to dispel “misinformation” about Israeli operations in Gaza in the vicinity of Shifa Hospital, where Hamas has its underground lair.
He reiterated that Israel is not attacking the hospital, and that it was safe to evacuate the hospital from the eastern side of the facility. He also said that Israel would be evacuating babies from the hospital, and noted that Hamas was holding infant hostages.
In a question-and-answer session, Netanyahu admitted that there had been mistakes in past conflicts with Hamas, when Israel thought that merely hitting Hamas targets would be enough to deter the organization. Israel had failed to reckon with what Hamas really wanted, he said, but now it recognized its enemy’s goal, and was committed to destroying Hamas completely.
He said that the Israeli military would have to grow, and promised to bring peace to the border communities, south and north.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the new biography, Rhoda: ‘Comrade Kadalie, You Are Out of Order’. He is also the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.