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31 Dec, 2023 04:53

Israel must have full control over Gaza-Egypt border – Netanyahu

The prime minister says “demilitarization” of the Palestinian enclave must be ensured
Israel must have full control over Gaza-Egypt border – Netanyahu

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu aims to take full control of the Gaza-Egypt border zone, arguing that this is the only way to achieve the “demilitarization” of the Palestinian enclave and prevent cross-border attacks.

Speaking at a press conference in Tel Aviv on Saturday as Israel enters the 13th week of the war with Hamas, Netanyahu predicted that “the war will continue for many more months,” despite international pressure to end the hostilities. 

He reiterated the plans to fully eliminate Hamas and achieve the release of all Israeli hostages, promising to ensure that Gaza no longer poses a threat to Israel and that there will be “no element in it that finances terrorism, educates its children for terrorism and pays the families of terrorists.”

Netanyahu added that there are “additional important missions” aimed at restoring security in the Israeli cities and settlements that fell victim to the devastating Hamas attack on October 7 and facilitating a safe return for residents.

“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 demilitarization that we seek,” the prime minister said.

“As prime minister, I have rejected the international pressure aimed at stopping the war before we achieve these goals,” Netanyahu added. He also praised the US for approving the “supply of additional war materiel” to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).

Netanyahu did not elaborate on whether he plans to place the enclave under exclusive Israeli control after years of disengagement, following the unilateral withdrawal of Israeli security forces in 2005. However, he has repeatedly said he will not allow the Palestinian Authority, which governs the West Bank but not Gaza, to take charge of the embattled enclave after the war.

Netanyahu’s statement came days after South Africa filed an appeal before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague, accusing Israel of committing “genocide” of the Palestinian population in Gaza.

Israel has rejected the accusation as lacking “factual and judicial basis,” instead blaming Hamas for inflicting suffering on Gazans and accusing the militant group of using civilians as “human shields.”

More than 21,600 people have been killed in Gaza since Israel began airstrikes and launched a ground invasion in the enclave, according to the Hamas-run government.

Israel declared war on Hamas and other Palestinian militants after they attacked southern Israeli cities and killed around 1,200 people and took more than 200 hostages. Dozens of hostages were later released as part of prisoner swaps during a weeklong truce in late November.