Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday called for the opposition to join an emergency unity government, outlined Israel’s battle plan against Hamas terror, likened the group to the Islamic State group, or ISIS, and warned of more “difficult days ahead” for the battered and bleeding nation.
“We are on the third day of the operation,” he said during a televised address to the nation, his first public appearance since Saturday night. “We are in an operation for our home, a war to ensure our existence, a war that we will win.”
“This war was imposed upon us by a despicable enemy — by savages who celebrate the murder of women, children, and the elderly,” he said. “The atrocities carried out by Hamas have not been seen since the atrocities of ISIS. Children bound and executed with the rest of their families, young girls and boys shot in the back, executed, and other atrocities that I will not describe here.”
First, to defeat terrorists still in Israel and prevent others from ending, in an operation that was still ongoing.
For the next step, he ordered a move to a massive, unprecedented offensive operation that was underway. Hundreds of thousands of reserves have been called up to service.
Third, he aimed to keep other fronts quiet — in the north, facing the Hezbollah terror group, in the West Bank, and inside Israel. The West Bank and northern border have seen some violence since the Hamas onslaught. Netanyahu praised the security forces for their work in all those areas.
Next, he vowed to continue recruiting international support for the operation and “preserve Israel’s freedom of action.”
Lastly, and most importantly, he said, was solidifying Israel’s national unity.
“The divisions amongst us are ended. We are all united. And when we are united, we win,” he said.
Now, “the leadership must unify,” he said, calling on the leaders of the opposition to immediately establish “an emergency national unity government with no pre-conditions,” as happened under Menachem Begin in the Six-Day War.
He said Israel has only just begun to hit Hamas and that the pictures of destruction in Gaza “are only the start. We have wiped out hundreds of terrorists and we won’t stop there.”
Wherever Hamas operates, “we will turn into a city of ruins.”
He said he was in “constant contact” with US President Joe Biden and thanked the US for its support for Israel’s security “in word and deed.” The US aircraft carrier on its way to the area sent a message that “our common enemies well understand,” he said. He also thanked many other world leaders for unprecedented support.
Wrapping up his statement, Netanyahu denied that there was any advance warning of Hamas’s massive attack from Egyptian intelligence, as reported earlier. He urged Israelis to be wary of fake news and not to “fall into these propaganda traps.”
“I know we all want results here and now. It will take time,” he said, but when the war is over, “all of Israel’s enemies will know that it was a terrible mistake to attack Israel.”
What Israel will have done to them, he said, will resonate with them “for generations.”
“We have lost entire families, sons and daughters, youngsters and elderly people, soldiers, police officers and security officers, Jews and non-Jews,” he said. “We all share the same destiny… Together we will prevail and together we will win. Only together.”
“Difficult days are still ahead of us,” he concluded. “But we are determined to win this war, to bring life, blessing and light to our people and our state.”
A senior Israeli government source told reporters earlier on Monday that Netanyahu’s defined goal for the war at this stage was to deprive Hamas of the ability and the motivation to harm Israel.
The source noted that “this is a very broad definition, and our interpretation of it is not limited. We don’t want to define it any further, but [Gaza] will not be ‘Hamastan.’”
The Times of Israel link