It’s been a month since Hamas launched a bloody raid on southern Israel, killing 1400 people and taking hundreds of hostages into the Gaza Strip. In response, Israel has bombed Gaza relentlessly, killing more than 10,000 Palestinians, according to the health ministry there. Large swathes of the enclave are now rubble. Civilians are sheltering in tents with nowhere left to go. Like Om Haitham Hejela, a mother who refused to leave the grounds of the Al Shifa hospital after an Israeli evacuation order. Instead, she and her children are crowded into a tent with no electricity and limited water and food. As Israel’s military campaign continues unabated, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave his first interview. Netanyahu saying Israel would have overall security responsibility for Gaza after the war against Hamas ends and there’s no sign of a letup in the bloodshed as the families of those taken hostage wait in agony.
He once again rejected the idea of a cease-fire in Gaza unless hostages are released, and also addressed Gaza’s future after the war.
President Joe Biden and top administration officials have been pressuring Israel for temporary “humanitarian” pauses in the fighting so more aid can enter Gaza and more civilians can escape the fighting in the Palestinian enclave.
Biden and Netanyahu discussed the matter as recently as Monday, but no apparent agreement was reached.
“Well, there’ll be no cease-fire, general cease-fire, in Gaza without the release of our hostages,” Netanyahu responded. “As far as tactical little pauses, an hour here, an hour there. We’ve had them before, I suppose, will check the circumstances in order to enable goods, humanitarian goods to come in, or our hostages, individual hostages to leave. But I don’t think there’s going to be a general cease-fire.”
Netanyahu continued, “I think it will hamper the war effort. It’ll hamper our effort to get our hostages out because the only thing that works on these criminals in Hamas is the military pressure that we’re exerting.”
Aasked if there would be such a pause if Hamas to agree to the release of hostages, Netanyahu “There will be a cease-fire for that purpose,”
Asked Netanyahu who should govern the territory when the fighting ends, the prime minister indicated he believes Israel will have a role to play for an “indefinite period.”
“Those who don’t want to continue the way of Hamas,” Netanyahu said, “It certainly is not — I think Israel will, for an indefinite period will have the overall security responsibility because we’ve seen what happens when we don’t have it. When we don’t have that security responsibility, what we have is the eruption of Hamas terror on a scale that we couldn’t imagine.”