In Knesset speech, Netanyahu decries false accusations, vows victory

by JNS

“I will not end the war before achieving all our goals. Our fallen heroes will not have died in vain,” declared the Israeli prime minister.

(JNS) Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday responded to attacks against the Israel Defense Forces operation in Hamas’s last stronghold in Gaza.

“In Rafah, we have evacuated about one million civilians. Tragically, despite our immense efforts to avoid harming non-combatants, an incident occurred yesterday,” Netanyahu said in reference to a mass-casualty event in the city that caused international outcry.

“For us, any noncombatant hurt is a tragedy; for Hamas, it is a strategy. That is the core difference,” he added, during a speech from the Knesset rostrum.

Israeli officials have told the Biden administration that shrapnel from the strike in Rafah may have ignited a fuel tank, starting a fire that engulfed tents housing displaced Gazans and leading to dozens of noncombatant deaths.

The targets of the strike were named as Yassin Rabia, head of Hamas’s Judea and Samaria headquarters, and Khaled Nagar, a senior official in the terrorist group’s Judea and Samaria wing.

The IDF spokesperson said earlier that the strike, based on intelligence and executed using precision weaponry, was carried out in accordance with international law.

In his speech, Netanyahu also pushed back against allegations that he is preventing a deal that would see the return to Israel of the 125 Israeli and other nationals—dead and alive—in exchange for a pause in fighting.

“The repeated false claims that we are the obstacle are not only harmful to the families—that much is obvious, and I sympathize with them,” he said. “But it goes beyond that: It delays the release of the hostages and undermines negotiations. Instead of focusing pressure on [Hamas chief in Gaza Yahya] Sinwar, who holds the hostages in his dungeons, the pressure is misdirected at the Israeli government.”

Netanyahu continued, “Israel is constantly asked to make concession after concession. So why would Sinwar feel any pressure? He sits in his bunker, rubbing his hands in satisfaction, delighted that others are doing the work for him.”

Hostage-release talks have been stalled since Hamas demanded that Israel implement an immediate ceasefire and withdraw all forces from Gaza, a demand that Netanyahu has refused to accept. On Sunday, it was announced that negotiations in Egypt may restart this week.

Israel’s prime minister said, however, that he would not give into unreasonable demands and fight until the end. 

“Let me be clear: I will not yield or surrender. I will not end the war before achieving all our goals. Our fallen heroes will not have died in vain,” he said.

Surrender means more Oct. 7 attacks, rapes, the failure to return the hostages and a win for Iran and its proxies, he declared. 

“I will continue the fight until we raise the flag of victory,” he said.

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