Netanyahu Says Major Operations in Gaza Will End ‘Very Soon’

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel will soon end the intense stage of fighting in Gaza and will focus on targeted operations against Hamas.

Bloomberg
First Published24 Jun 2024, 04:19 AM IST
Netanyahu Says Major Operations in Gaza Will End ‘Very Soon’
Netanyahu Says Major Operations in Gaza Will End ‘Very Soon’

(Bloomberg) -- Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel will soon end the intense stage of fighting in Gaza and will focus on targeted operations against Hamas. 

“It will be very soon,” Netanyahu said when asked in a TV interview whether fighting in the southern city of Rafah will end in a month’s time. 

It was his first interview with an Israeli media outlet since the Oct. 7 attacks, in which Hamas militants invaded southern Israel from Gaza, killing 1,200 people and kidnapping another 250. Hamas is considered a terrorist organization by the US and the European Union.

Israel’s response — aimed at returning the hostages and uprooting Hamas as a military and political entity — has killed some 37,000 Palestinians, according to Hamas officials, who don’t distinguish between fighters and civilians. 

Netanyahu said the next step for the military will be for Israel to redeploy some forces to the north, where exchanges with Hezbollah have been escalating, and to bring home local residents who were evacuated. 

“If we can, we’ll do this by diplomatic means, if not it’ll be achieved in another way,” Netanyahu said.

US officials have been concerned that open warfare may break out between Israel and Hezbollah, the political party and heavily armed militia in Lebanon backed by Iran.

Why Hezbollah Is More Worrying to Israel Than Hamas: QuickTake

In the interview, Netanyahu directly rejected, for the first time, the prospect of a cease-fire deal with Hamas that could eventually lead to the end of war - as laid out in a speech by US President Joe Biden several weeks ago.

“If there is an agreement, it will be on our terms and that would not mean ending the war, withdrawing from Gaza and leaving Hamas rule intact,” he said. 

“I am willing to agree to a partial deal that will see some of the Israeli hostages come home, and after such cease-fire ends, we will be committed to continuing the fighting until the goal of eliminating Hamas is completed,” he said.

His interview angered families of hostages, who blame him for abandoning the group of 120 hostages who remain in Gaza, thus “violating the country’s moral duty toward its citizens,” according to a statement by hostage family members issued after the interview. 

Netanyahu’s office issued a later statement saying he was in fact committed to bringing back all the hostages. 

“It is Hamas that opposes a deal, not Israel,” the statement read. “Netanyahu has made clear we will not leave Gaza until we return all hostages, living and deceased.”

More stories like this are available on bloomberg.com

©2024 Bloomberg L.P.

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First Published:24 Jun 2024, 04:19 AM IST
HomeNewsNetanyahu Says Major Operations in Gaza Will End ‘Very Soon’

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