The war against Hamas will continue “until victory,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday, the three-month anniversary of the Oct. 7 massacre in the northwestern Negev.
Speaking at the start of the regular weekly Cabinet meeting, which was held at the Kirya military headquarters in Tel Aviv instead of its usual meeting place at the Knesset in Jerusalem, the premier issued a warning to Hezbollah in Lebanon.
“I have a clear message for our enemies: What happened on October 7 will not happen again. This is the commitment of my government and this is the reason why our soldiers in the field are giving their lives. Our commanders and soldiers, conscripts and reservists, in the north and the south, repeat one thing: ‘We are not coming back until we carry out [the mission],’ and I say: ‘We are not stopping until victory,'” Netanyahu said, according to a press release from the Prime Minister’s Office.
“The war must not be stopped until we achieve all of its goals: Eliminating Hamas, returning all of our hostages and ensuring that Gaza will never again constitute a threat to Israel. I say this to both our enemies and our friends. This is our responsibility and it is the responsibility of all of us,” he continued.
“Every other consideration must be set aside, and we must continue until total victory. This victory will be achieved only when we complete our goals and when we restore security to residents of the north and south alike,” the premier continued.
“I suggest that Hezbollah learn what Hamas has already learned in recent months: No terrorist is immune. We are determined to defend our citizens and to return the residents of the north safely to their homes. This is a national goal that we all share and which we are all working to achieve responsibly. If we can, we will do so diplomatically, and if not, we will work in other ways,” said Netanyahu.
War Cabinet minister Benny Gantz and two other ministers without portfolio from his National Unity Party—Gadi Eizenkot and Chili Tropper—skipped the meeting in a sign of possible divisions within the emergency unity government.
Their absence came after the Security Cabinet meeting last Thursday in which right-wing members of Netanyahu’s coalition criticized IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi publicly for the military investigation he announced into the failures of Oct. 7. Gantz warned Netanyahu on Friday in a video address that he needed to choose between unity and politics, calling the actions of the right-wing ministers “a politically motivated attack in the middle of a war.”
However, Gantz on Sunday appeared to defend Netanyahu’s motivation in regards to securing Israeli communities near the northern border from the threat of Hezbollah, following a Washington Post report published on Sunday that U.S. officials are concerned that the prime minister “may see an expanded fight in Lebanon as key to his political survival amid domestic criticism of his government’s failure to prevent Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack.”
Gantz tweeted that “the reality where the citizens of Northern Israel cannot return to their homes—requires an urgent solution. The world must remember that it was the terrorist organization Hezbollah that initiated the escalation.
“Israel is interested in a diplomatic solution, but if one cannot be found—Israel and the IDF will remove the threat. All of the War Cabinet’s members share this view. The only consideration here is Israel’s security, and nothing else. That is our duty to our country and our citizens.”