The border zone between the Gaza Strip and Egypt should be under Israel’s control, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said, as he predicted the war in the Palestinian enclave and on other regional fronts would last many months.
As Israel entered the 13th week of its war in Gaza on Saturday, Netanyahu held a news conference where he renewed his promise to eliminate Hamas and bring home all Israelis held captive in Gaza.
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“The Philadelphi Corridor – or to put it more correctly, the southern stoppage point [of Gaza] – must be in our hands. It must be shut. It is clear that any other arrangement would not ensure the demilitarisation that we seek,” he said.
Israel has said it intends to destroy Hamas in Gaza and demilitarise the territory to prevent any repeat of the October 7 cross-border killing and kidnapping spree by the armed group.
“The war is at its height. We are fighting on all of the fronts. Achieving victory will require time. As the [Israeli army] chief of staff has said, the war will continue for many more months,” Netanyahu said.
He also added a rare threat to attack Iran directly over the near-daily exchanges of fire across the Israel-Lebanon border.
“If [the Iran-backed Lebanese armed group] Hezbollah expands the warfare, it will suffer blows that it has not dreamed of – and so too Iran,” Netanyahu said without elaborating.
The war has triggered fears of a regional conflagration amid rising tensions with other Iranian-aligned groups in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen.
Israel’s relentless bombing and ground offensive on Gaza since October 7 has killed at least 21,672 people, most of them women and children, with thousands of others buried under the rubble.
The military operation has also displaced almost the entire 2.3 million population of the besieged territory.
About 1,140 people were killed by Hamas in Israel in the October 7 attacks.