Netanyahu Defends Gaza Operation in National Speech: 'There is No War More Just than This'
In a speech to the people of Israel in Hebrew broadcast this evening, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed that Operation Protective Edge, which the IDF began to neutralize tunnels used to funnel arms to Hamas in Gaza, will not stop until those tunnels are destroyed.
"We will not end the operation in Gaza without neutralizing the terror tunnels," he told viewers, according to the Jerusalem Post. Warning citizens they should "prepare ourselves for an extended campaign," he noted that eliminating the threat Hamas poses both to Israel and Palestinians in Gaza "may take some time." Netanyahu also made clear that any permanent cessation of hostilities in Gaza would require total demilitarization of the region, and that those seeking to work for peace should work to keep munitions out of the area and out of the hands of Hamas terrorists.
Netanyahu also addressed the call for ceasefires from various elements of the international left, including President Barack Obama and the United Nations. Earlier today, reports surfaced that the President of the United States called Netanyahu late Sunday night to demand an "immediate, unconditional ceasefire" in Gaza, as well as for the “disarmament of terrorist groups and the demilitarization of Gaza." President Obama reportedly did not offer an alternative solution to the second demand-- demilitarization of terrorists in Gaza-- that did not require Israeli military force. The call followed the United Nations Security Council also calling for an "unconditional ceasefire" by Israel.
Netanyahu noted the fact that Israel has already agreed to multiple ceasefires during this operation, which Hamas has responded to by either agreeing and then violating the ceasefire or continuing to attack Israel without claiming to agree to the ceasefire at all. Netanyahu insisted that deploying the military to this operation was the right choice for the government to make. "Hamas is a cruel enemy, not only to us, but to their own citizens... there is no war more just than this one," he stated.
Shortly before Netanyahu took to the airwaves to warn Israelis to expect this operation to be "prolonged," Gaza's Shifa Hospital was hit with rocket fire, killing ten, in what Israeli authorities credibly declared was a failed attempt by Hamas to launch a rocket into Israeli territory. Nine of the ten victims of Hamas' rocket fire were children, and all were Palestinian. In addition to rocket misfire, Hamas is a constant threat to Palestinian children thanks to its propensity for hiding rockets in schools and mosques, using children as human shields against Israeli attack, and reportedly even using child labor to build tunnels to aid their terrorist activities.