Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu categorically rejected the idea of a ceasefire in Gaza, equating any pause in hostilities to a victory for Hamas during a press conference on Monday.
“Calls for a ceasefire are calls for Israel to surrender to Hamas, to surrender to terrorism, to surrender to barbarism,” Netanyahu told reporters, vowing, “That will not happen.”
“Just as the United States would not agree to a ceasefire after the bombing of Pearl Harbor or after the terrorist attack of 9/11, Israel will not agree to a cessation of hostilities with Hamas after the horrific attacks of October 7,” he continued. ‘
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“Today, we draw a line between the forces of civilization and the forces of barbarism,” Netanyahu declared, arguing that countries that failed to align themselves with Israel in “a war for our common future” were placing themselves in harm’s way.
“If Hamas and Iran’s axis of evil wins, you will be their next target,” he warned, vowing to fight until the Palestinian militant group was wiped out.
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Unlike Hamas, which he claimed was deliberately targeting civilians with beheadings, rapes, and other atrocities, the prime minister insisted the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) were going out of their way to avoid killing Palestinian civilians. “Even the most just wars have unintended civilian casualties,” he said.
International human rights observers have repeatedly condemned Israel for its collective punishment of Gaza’s civilian population, citing the deliberate targeting of hospitals, schools, and other civilian infrastructure and the withholding of food, water, medicine, and electricity as violations of international humanitarian law. Israel has argued Hamas uses civilian facilities as human shields and commandeers humanitarian aid deliveries.
On Saturday, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. Just 14 member states – including Israel and the US – opposed the measure, while 45 abstained. Israel has since deployed tanks to Gaza as part of a planned ground invasion.
Since declaring war on Hamas following the militant group’s surprise attack on October 7, Israel has reportedly killed over 8,300 Palestinians. The UN’s human rights body has accused Israel of war crimes, including genocide, describing an evacuation order issued to over 1 million inhabitants of northern Gaza as a thinly-veiled attempt at ethnic cleansing.
Last week, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres observed in a speech to the Security Council that Hamas’ attack had not occurred “in a vacuum” and condemned Israel for the “56 years of suffocating occupation” it had inflicted on the Palestinian people. Israel subsequently vowed to reject visa applications by UN officials, accusing Guterres of attempting to justify Hamas’s attack.