Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has suggested that his country will manage Gaza’s security long after the end of its war with Hamas.
Asked in an interview on Monday who should govern Gaza after the war, Netanyahu said that he believed Israel would take responsibility for security for an “indefinite period”.
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“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,” Netanyahu said in an interview with ABC News.
Netanyahu’s comments came after United States President Joe Biden, his closest ally, last month warned Israel against a full-scale occupation of Gaza, saying that doing so would be “a big mistake”.
While Biden has strongly backed Netanyahu’s war against Hamas, the two leaders have differed on tactics, including efforts to prevent civilian casualties and the need for pauses in fighting to allow the delivery of humanitarian aid.
On Monday, Netanyahu reiterated that would not accept a ceasefire until Hamas releases its captives in Gaza, but signalled his openness to “tactical little pauses” to allow the movement of people and aid.
“There’ll be no ceasefire, general ceasefire, in Gaza without the release of our hostages. As far as tactical little pauses, an hour here, an hour there – we’ve had them before,” Netanyahu said.
“I suppose we’ll 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 ceasefire.”
Israel is coming under growing international pressure to halt its bombardment of Gaza, which was launched in response to Hamas’s October 7 attacks that Israeli officials say killed at least 1,405 people, mostly civilians.
On Monday, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for an urgent ceasefire, warning that the enclave had become a “graveyard for children“.
Biden has pressed Netanyahu to agree to “humanitarian pauses” to allow aid into the enclave but backed the Israeli leader’s opposition to a full ceasefire.
On Monday, Israel’s military said it had “coordinated” with Jordan to airdrop urgent medical supplies and food to a Jordanian field hospital in the enclave.
At least 10,022 Palestinians, including more than 4,100 children, have been killed in Gaza during the month-long war, according to the health ministry in the Hamas-run enclave.
Netanyahu said on Monday that the loss of any civilian life was a “tragedy” but disputed the reported death toll, saying it included “several thousand” Palestinian fighters.
The Israeli leader also accused Hamas of using Gaza’s population as human shields.
“It’s a very tough enemy but we can’t let them have immunity,” he said.