Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Friday that Israel will not change its approach to the Gaza Strip, stating that the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) will continue its relentless bombing campaign against the Palestinian enclave. He emphasized that West Jerusalem will not agree to any pause in the hostilities unless the Israeli hostages held by the Gaza-based Hamas militant group are freed. Netanyahu’s statements came after a meeting with US State Secretary Antony Blinken in Tel Aviv, where they discussed the need for “humanitarian pauses” to protect Gaza civilians and increase humanitarian aid deliveries.
The IDF will continue striking Gaza with “all of its power,” Netanyahu stated during a press conference. He reiterated that Israel refuses a temporary ceasefire that does not include the release of their hostages. The hostages, numbering around 240, were kidnapped by Hamas in a surprise attack on October 7. While Hamas has expressed openness to releasing the hostages, they have stated that it can only be done after hostilities cease and they can gather information on the captives, which is currently difficult due to the bombardments and communications blackout imposed by Israel.
During the press conference in Tel Aviv, Blinken expressed support for Israel, stating that the Jewish state would “never be alone.” He also emphasized the importance of humanitarian pauses and arrangements on the ground to increase security for civilians and allow for more effective and sustained distribution of humanitarian aid.
Following the statements, the Israeli security cabinet announced further restrictions against the Palestinian enclave. All workers from Gaza stranded on Israeli territory amid the IDF operation would be sent home, according to the statement issued by the security cabinet. This move further cuts ties between Israel and Gaza.
Israel’s massive bombings of Gaza have faced criticism from several Arab nations, as well as Turkey and the United Nations. The UN has spoken about the potential for war crimes and “collective punishment” committed by the Israeli military. Moscow has also criticized West Jerusalem’s actions, while still condemning the Hamas attack on Israel on October 7.
During an emergency meeting at the UN General Assembly, the Russian ambassador to the UN, Vassily Nebenzia, stated that Israel’s right to self-defense does not warrant an invasion into Gaza, which is not under West Jerusalem’s jurisdiction. This statement sparked an angry response from West Jerusalem, accusing Moscow of denying Israel its right to security and attempting to divert attention from its military campaign in Ukraine.
Israeli President Isaac Herzog also spoke out against those calling for a ceasefire, stating that attempts to “tie their hands” with demands for a ceasefire are wrong. He emphasized that the suffering for both Israelis and Palestinians will only end with the removal of Hamas, stating this in an opinion piece for the New York Times.
In conclusion, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made it clear that Israel will not change its approach to the Gaza Strip. The Israeli Defense Force will continue its bombing campaign until the hostages held by Hamas are released. The international community, including the United States, has expressed support for Israel but has also called for humanitarian pauses and increased security for civilians in Gaza. The situation remains tense, with criticisms and accusations being exchanged between Israel, Arab nations, and Russia.