At a wide-ranging press conference Wednesday night, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu went on the offensive to describe Hamas as part of a network of Islamist terror groups, which include the Islamic State (IS), Hezbollah, and al-Qaeda.
Netanyahu was making an effort to muster greater international support for Israel’s ongoing battle against Gaza’s Hamas rulers.
As reported in The Times of Israel, Netanyahu said that Hamas’s Islamist terror leadership and ISIS “are branches of the same tree.” He noted that “the entire world has been shocked by the atrocities of ISIS. You saw the beheading of an American journalist, [James] Foley. It shows you the barbarism, the savagery of these people.
“Well, we face the same savagery,” Netanyahu went on. “The people who wantonly rocket our cities and want to conduct mass killings. And when they can, they murder children, teenagers, shoot them in the head. Throw people from the sixth floor — their own people — and use their people as human shields.”
In short, said the Prime Minister, groups like Hamas, Hezbollah, al-Qaeda, and Islamic Jihad “are the enemies of peace. They are the enemies of Israel. They are the enemies of all civilized countries. And I believe they are the enemies of the Palestinians themselves.”
Netanyahu praised the Obama administration for its support, noting that the U.S. backs Israel’s demand for a demilitarized Gaza.
Netanyahu said the Hamas threat underlined his insistence on a demilitarized West Bank — something he said he has stressed to the U.S. Otherwise, he asked, “Who is going to prevent them manufacturing rockets in Nablus?”
The Islamic State is only half as strong as Hamas, he said, but “look at what it can do” in terms of terrorism. “This was not understood” previously.
Meanwhile, Reuters reports that Israel’s demand for a demilitarized Gaza picked up another ally Wednesday when French President Francois Hollande called on Hamas to be disarmed, after the terror group violated yet another ceasefire with Israel.
“We are at a critical point. France supports the Egyptian mediation,” Hollande told Le Monde in an interview. “Gaza can no longer remain like it is. The objective must be a demilitarization and a lifting of the blockade.”
Hollande called for a demilitarization of Gaza under the auspices of the Palestinian Authority (PA). Hollande’s demand is consistent with the call of the European Union’s foreign ministers, who, last month, released a statement demanding the disarming of Hamas.