The siege of the Gaza Strip will continue until every Israeli kidnapped by Hamas is freed, Energy and Infrastructure Minister Israel Katz said on Thursday.
“Humanitarian aid to Gaza? No electrical switch will be turned on, no water hydrant will be opened and no fuel truck will enter until the Israeli abductees are returned home. Humanitarian for humanitarian. And let no one try to preach morality to us,” the Likud lawmaker and Security Cabinet member wrote on X.
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant on Monday ordered a “complete siege” of the Gaza Strip as the Israel Defense Forces prepares for a major offensive in response to Hamas’s surprise attack on Oct. 7, which left at least 1,300 people dead and more than 3,000 wounded.
Between 100 and 200 Israelis are being held captive by Hamas in the Gaza Strip, according to reports, with the IDF saying it has so far notified the families of 97 hostages.
Cairo has rejected a U.S. proposal to establish a humanitarian corridor at its border with the Gaza Strip, Reuters reported on Wednesday.
The wire service also reported that Egypt has been discussing with the U.S. and other parties ways to allow for humanitarian aid to enter the Strip from Sinai.
Egyptian security sources dismissed any proposal to allow Gazans fleeing the conflict to enter the country, with one saying they would not allow safe corridors so as to protect “the right of Palestinians to hold on to their cause and their land.”
U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said on Tuesday that discussions were being held with Israel and Egypt on allowing for safe passage out of Gaza for civilians.
U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres told reporters on Wednesday that “we need rapid and unimpeded humanitarian access now,” in reference to Gaza. He thanked Egypt for its “constructive engagement” in regard to facilitating humanitarian assistance and for making the El Arish airport in North Sinai “available for critical assistance.”
U.N. spokesman Stéphane Dujarric later said: “Civilians need to be protected. We do not want to see a mass exodus of Gazans.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday in a national address announcing the formation of a unity government: “We saw the predator animals. We saw the barbarians we are dealing with. We are fighting an enemy, and that enemy is worse than ISIS.”
Gallant, who spoke after Netanyahu, said the attack was the most serious act of terrorism the world had ever seen.
“I have served the State of Israel as a soldier and a fighter for 47 years. I have seen many difficult events. I have never seen such an event,” the former major general said. “Barbaric acts that the Jews have not experienced since 1945.”
National Unity Party leader Benny Gantz, who spoke last, said that the nation’s leadership is standing “shoulder to shoulder” to send a clear message to Israel’s enemies, and even more so, to Israel’s citizens that the country is united.”
The opposition party leader, now joining the unity government, said he understood that some citizens may have lost their sense of security and that he understands that, but Israel remains the most powerful country in the region with the most powerful army in the Middle East.
“This power Gaza has already felt, and if necessary those in Lebanon will feel it and the whole world will see that the portion of our enemies will be blood and fire,” Gantz, a former lieutenant general and chief of IDF staff, said.
“We will win and change the security and strategic reality in this arena,” he said.