“Citizens of Israel, this evening we established an emergency unity government,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a national address in the presence of National Unity Party leader Benny Gantz and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant on Wednesday night.
“The people of Israel are united, and today its leadership is united. We have put aside all other considerations because the fate of our country hangs in the balance,” said the prime minister.
“We saw the animals of prey. We saw the barbarians we are dealing with. We are fighting an enemy and that enemy is worse than ISIS,” he added.
Netanyahu detailed the monstrosities that were carried out against innocent civilians—how children were bound and shot in the head, men and women were burned, young girls were raped and slaughtered, and a group was burned alive using spare tires as fuel for the fire.
Everyone in Israel knows someone who was killed in the inferno, the prime minister said.
“But as the magnitude of the horror, such is the magnitude of the heroism: Men and women, fathers and mothers, citizen warriors who showed courage and supreme heroism,” he said.
Netanyahu said he had spoken to U.S. President Joe Biden for the fourth time since the war began five days ago and that there is “unprecedented international support for Israel.” He called it an “essential ingredient” in the war Israel is waging.
“We are fighting with all our strength on all fronts. We have gone on the offensive,” Netanyahu said. “Every member of Hamas is a dead man. Hamas is ISIS, and we will crush and eliminate it just as the world crushed and eliminated ISIS.”
Gallant, who spoke after Netanyahu, said the attack was the most serious act of terror 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,” he said. “Barbaric acts that the Jews have not experienced since 1945.”
Gallant said that the only thing that stopped the barbarism was the heroism of Israel’s soldiers.
Describing some of those acts of heroism, he told of a battalion commander who ran out of ammunition and crawled to the body of a terrorist to take his grenade and throw it at more terrorists, killing them. He also said he met a general who singlehandedly killed 14 terrorists.
“These are the heroes that stopped the murder,” he stressed. “And I tell you all, we will erase this thing called Hamas.”
Gantz, who spoke last, said that the 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 leader said he understood that some citizens may have lost their sense of security and that he understands the feeling, 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 in Lebanon will feel it and the whole world will see that the share of our enemies will be blood and fire,” Gantz said.
“We will win, and change the security and strategic reality in this arena,” he said.
“Our partnership is not a political partnership, it is a partnership of destiny. All citizens of Israel share the same fate and together we will shape our destiny and reality.”
“I would like to emphasize that all the members of the National Unity camp and I stand by the campaign led by the Prime Minister and the Minister of Defense and simply lend a shoulder,” Gantz said.
“We are enlisting, like all of our children have enlisted. Because Israeli society as a whole is under Order 8,” he said, referring to the order number for immediate call-up of IDF reservists. “At this time, we are all soldiers of the State of Israel.”
‘A huge terror base, the new caliphate’
According to the agreement, a war cabinet will be formed to include Netanyahu, Gantz and Gallant, while Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer and Knesset member Gadi Eizenkot, a member of Gantz’s party, will serve as observers.
Gantz, Eizenkot and Knesset member Gideon Sa’ar will be sworn in as ministers without portfolio.
Gantz’s party will have a total of five ministers in the emergency government—Gantz, Eizenkot, Sa’ar and two others yet to be named.
The Israel Defense Forces offensive, “Operation Swords of Iron,” will leave Hamas bereft for decades of military capabilities, a Netanyahu spokesperson told journalists on Wednesday.
As part of “Operation Swords of Iron,” the IDF is conducting wide-scale airstrikes on several strategic centers belonging to Hamas. The army has not yet begun a ground invasion, which is expected.
“We regard Gaza as a huge terror base, the new caliphate. … This is ISIS on steroids because it has a state behind it: Iran,” she said. “We are a country at war, but not only we are at war: This is a war of the entire civilized world against savagery.”
On Saturday, Hamas terrorists infiltrated several Israeli communities, killing at least 1,200 people and taking at least 100 hostages back to Gaza. Some 3,000 people were wounded in shooting and rocket attacks over the weekend, and the toll continues to climb.