Gaza Strip, Palestinian Territories — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has insisted peace can only be achieved in Gaza if Hamas is destroyed, the territory demilitarised and Palestinian society “deradicalised”, after warning the war is set to intensify.
The declarations came as the World Health Organization on Monday reported “harrowing” accounts of entire families killed from Christmas Eve strikes on a refugee camp in Gaza.
Relentless Israeli strikes have devastated the Palestinian territory and the conflict has heightened tensions across the Middle East, with global pressure for a ceasefire mounting.
But in an op-ed published in the Wall Street Journal on Monday night, Netanyahu vowed to stay the course.
“Hamas must be destroyed, Gaza must be demilitarised, and Palestinian society must be deradicalised. These are the three prerequisites for peace between Israel and its Palestinian neighbours in Gaza,” Netanyahu said.
He said demilitarisation “will require establishing a temporary security zone on the perimeter” of the territory.
“For the foreseeable future Israel will have to retain overriding security responsibility over Gaza,” he said.
Earlier on Monday Netanyahu visited Gaza, telling a meeting of his Likud party after his return: “We’re not stopping.”
“We’re intensifying the fighting in the coming days,” he said, according to a party statement.
The war in Gaza erupted when Palestinian militants broke through the militarised border and attacked southern Israel on October 7, killing about 1,140 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli figures.
Fighters also seized about 250 hostages, Israel says.
Israel vowed to crush Hamas in response, and launched a retaliatory military campaign including extensive aerial bombardment and a siege of the territory. The campaign has killed at least 20,674 people, mostly women and children, according to Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry. — AFP