The prime minister insisted there were no plans to “conquer” or “occupy” the Palestinian enclave
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said his country does not intend to take control of Gaza after the current war with Hamas, but would seek to establish a “credible force” to ensure that the territory no longer presents a threat to the Jewish state.
Speaking to Fox News on Thursday, Netanyahu outlined his government’s plans for post-conflict Gaza, stressing that Israeli forces would not attempt to “displace” local residents in the ongoing ground assault.
“What we have to see is Gaza demilitarized, deradicalized and rebuilt. All of that can be achieved,” he said, adding “We don’t seek to conquer Gaza. We don’t seek to occupy Gaza. And we don’t seek to govern Gaza.”
However, the prime minister went on to state that Israel would need to establish a “credible force” that could “enter Gaza and kill the killers” at any time, arguing “That’s what will prevent the emergence of another Hamas-like entity.”
The interview with Fox came just days after Netanyahu declared that Israel would manage “overall security” in Gaza for an “indefinite period” after the present conflict, appearing to contradict past statements from other senior officials.
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant previously said Israeli forces would establish a “new security reality” in the area, but emphasized that the IDF would not be responsible for “day-to-day life in the Gaza Strip.”
While Netanyahu clarified that a new “civilian government” would be created for Gazans, he did not specify the role of the IDF in that process or how such a task would be accomplished.
Washington has vocally supported Israel’s military action to eliminate Hamas following last month’s deadly attack, but US officials have urged their partners not to pursue the “reoccupation” of Gaza. However, when asked who might govern the Palestinian enclave once fighting dies down, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said the White House does not “have all the answers to that,” merely insisting it could not be Hamas.
Israel first occupied Gaza during the 1967 Six-Day War with Egypt, Jordan, and Syria, and only withdrew its troops and settlers nearly 40 years later. However, the rise to power of Hamas in the enclave in 2007 prompted a tight blockade over the territory, and the IDF has launched multiple bombing campaigns in the years since.