“As for all the talk about ‘the day after’, that day will only come after Hamas is eradicated. Gaza will be demilitarized and there will no longer be a threat to Israel from the Gaza Strip,” Netanyahu said at a news conference.
He added that Israeli forces will reserve the right to act to stop any threats to Israel from the enclave.
“In order to guarantee that there will be no threat, at any time, if necessary, the Israel Defense Forces will continue to exercise security control in the Gaza Strip, guaranteeing that terrorism will not come from there, because the October 7 massacre proved forever that wherever there is no Israeli control, terrorism takes root and strikes us. This was also proven in Judea and Samaria (the Israeli names for the West Bank), which is why I will not compromise security control under any condition,” the prime minister went on to say.
When asked who will exercise civilian control in the Gaza Strip, Netanyahu stated there should be no radicals in power there.
“I want to emphasize again that security control implies the ability [for Israeli forces] to go in whenever we want to eliminate terrorists who might pop up again and start threatening Israel. I will tell you what there will not be. There will not be Hamas. There will also not be a civil authority that educates its children to hate Israel, to kill Israelis, to eliminate the State of Israel,” he continued.
Netanyahu also rejected growing international calls for a ceasefire in Gaza, saying that Israel’s battle against Hamas will continue, “with all our force, with all our might.”
Israel will “continue until the victory”, he added.
“Hamas lost its grip over the Gaza Strip. It has no safe place to hide. … All Hamas members are marked for death,” Netanyahu continued, stating, “Our forces are hitting them above the ground, and our forces are hitting them under the ground.”
Netanyahu previously unveiled his long-term plan for Gaza on Thursday, saying Israel would ensure that the territory no longer presents a threat to Tel Aviv.
“What we have to see is Gaza demilitarized, deradicalized and rebuilt,” he continued, adding “We don’t seek to conquer Gaza. We don’t seek to occupy Gaza. And we don’t seek to govern Gaza.”
The prime minister explained that no matter who governs Gaza after the war, Israel would need to establish a force that could “enter Gaza and kill the killers” at any time, to “prevent the emergence of another Hamas-like entity”.
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant also 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”.
Israel has launched an unprecedented military bombardment of the densely-populated Gaza enclave in retaliation for Hamas’ assault on its territory last month. Israeli officials announced on Friday that about 1,200 of its citizens – mostly civilians – died in the attack, revising downwards its prior estimates.
In excess of 11,000 people have died in more than four weeks of artillery and airstrikes in Gaza, Palestinian health officials have confirmed, with about 40% of them children.
Palestinian groups have slammed Israeli discussion of the future of Gaza as an attempt by Tel Aviv to extend its military presence there, stating the future of the enclave should be decided by the Palestinians and no one else. They have also announced the governance of the Gaza Strip is a “pure Palestinian affair”.