Israel-Hamas war: Benjamin Netanyahu claims Israel would oversee Gaza for 'indefinite period' after war ends, amid ceasefire pressure
In a US TV interview, the Israeli prime minister said Israel may have security responsibility for the territory for the foreseeable future, saying “we’ve seen what happens when we don’t have it”.
Speaking to ABC News, Mr Netanyahu expressed openness to “little pauses” in the fighting to facilitate the release of some of the more than 240 hostages seized by Hamas in its October 7 attack on Israel, which triggered the war exactly a month ago.
But he ruled out any general ceasefire without the release of all those held captive. The White House said there was no agreement with US president Joe Biden’s call for a broader humanitarian suspension of hostilities after a phone call between the leaders on Monday.
United Nations leaders issued a rare joint statement proclaiming “enough is enough” and calling for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire – as well as the release of Israeli hostages.
The Palestinian death toll has passed 10,000, the health ministry of the Hamas-run Gaza Strip said, including more than 4,100 children. A further 2,300 people are missing, believed to be buried under the rubble of destroyed buildings.
Mr Netanyahu said Gaza should be governed by “those who don’t want to continue the way of Hamas”.
Asked who should govern the territory when the war ends, Mr Netanyahu said he thought Israel would “have the overall security responsibility” indefinitely.
“I think Israel will, for an indefinite period, have the overall security responsibility, because we’ve seen what happens when we don’t have it,” he said. “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.”
Israeli air strikes have flattened entire streets across the territory. Around 70 per cent of the population – about 1.5 million people – has fled their homes, with many heeding Israeli orders to head to the southern part of the besieged territory, which is also being bombed.
Food, medicine, fuel and water are running low, and United Nations-run schools-turned-shelters are overflowing.
UNRWA, the UN agency that has had responsibility for refugees in Palestine since 1949, has warned food and clean water are almost non-existent in Gaza, where aid has slowed to a trickle since Israel put the strip under siege following the Hamas attacks. It said only 146 trucks have entered Gaza since October 7, while at least 100 a day are needed.
The conflict has quickly become the deadliest Israeli-Palestinian violence since Israel was established 75 years ago, with no end in sight as Israel vows to remove Hamas from power and crush its military capabilities.
About 1,400 people in Israel have died, mostly civilians killed in the October 7 attack by Hamas that started the war. The military says 30 Israeli troops have been killed since the ground offensive began more than a week ago.
Israel is focused on Gaza City, where Israel says Hamas has extensive militant infrastructure in the city, including a vast tunnel network, and accuses it of using civilians as human shields. Several hundred thousand people are believed to remain in the north in the assault’s path.
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