Israel does not intend to occupy Gaza permanently nor to displace its civilian population, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday.
“Israel is fighting Hamas terrorists, not the Palestinian population, and we are doing so in full compliance with international law,” he added in a video message. “The IDF is doing its utmost to minimize civilian casualties, while Hamas is doing its utmost to maximize them by using Palestinian civilians as human shields.”
The prime minister noted that the Israel Defense Forces drops leaflets and makes phone calls urging civilians to leave war zones, “providing safe passage corridors, while Hamas prevents Palestinians from leaving at gunpoint and often with gunfire.”
“Our goal is to rid Gaza of Hamas terrorists and free our hostages,” he said. “Once this is achieved, Gaza can be demilitarized and de-radicalized, thereby creating a possibility for a better future for Israel and Palestinians alike.”
Earlier in the day, John Kirby, coordinator for strategic communications at the National Security Council of the White House, was asked in a press briefing about U.S. President Joe Biden’s statement that he is “quietly” working with the Israeli government to get out of Gaza.
“With these words, is he signaling for a ceasefire? And does the administration still support Israel’s position that a ceasefire can only be possible if Hamas is eliminated,” a reporter asked.
“Nothing has changed about our view here that we don’t support a ceasefire at this time, and there’s no change to that because we don’t believe that that benefits anybody but Hamas right now,” Kirby said.
“We do continue to support humanitarian pauses but not a general ceasefire right now,” he added. “The president wasn’t signaling any change at all. In fact, he was signaling very much this—a very consistent view that he has had since the beginning of the conflict.”