Israel will not agree to a ceasefire as it would be equivalent to surrendering to Hamas and terrorism, Benjamin Nethanyu has said.
The Israeli prime minister said his country would not stop military activity “just as the United States would not agree to a ceasefire after the bombing of Pearl Harbor or the terrorist attack of 9/11”.
Mr Netanyahu gave a news conference this evening as Israel’s troops push deeper into Gaza, with the country’s chief military spokesperson warning operations in the territory will “escalate”.
The prime minister condemned the “barbarians” of Hamas for trying to destroy the “promise” of Israel’s future.
Mr Netanyahu also urged the world not to “surrender to tyranny and terror”.
“Israel did not start this war. Israel did not want this war. But Israel will win this war,” he added.
Follow live: Hamas releases hostage video
Hamas “raped women” and “beheaded men” during their surprise attack on 7 October, he added. He described their actions as the “most horrific crimes imaginable”.
“Israel is fighting the enemies of civilisation itself,” he said.
In a plea for sympathy from the international community, the Israeli leader said a distinction must be drawn between Hamas’s “deliberate targeting” of civilians and the “unintentional” casualties of Israel’s strikes in response.
“Hamas is doing everything to keep Palestinian civilians in harm’s way,” Mr Netanyahu added as he claimed the militant group has been using people in Gaza as human shields.
He also claimed Hamas fighters had been holding Palestinians at gunpoint to prevent them from leaving certain areas.
The Israeli leader also said Hamas is preventing foreign nationals from leaving Gaza.
Image: The aftermath of an Israeli strike near Al Quds hospital in Gaza City ‘This is time for war’
Mr Netanyahu said Israel has been “going out of our way” not to kill civilians in its attacks on Gaza.
He also said that “even the most just wars have unintended civilian casualties”.
More than 1,400 people have been killed in Israel during the conflict which broke out on 7 October, official Israeli sources have said.
Meanwhile, more than 8,300 people have been killed in Gaza in Israel’s retaliatory strikes on the territory, the Hamas-led health ministry has said.
Mr Netanyahu closed his speech by saying: “The Bible says that there is a time for peace and a time for war.
“This is a time for war, a war for a common future. Today, we draw a line between the forces of civilisation and the forces of barbarism.
“It is a time for everyone to decide where they stand. Israel will stand against the forces of barbarism until victory. I hope and pray that civilised nations everywhere will back this fight.
“Because Israel’s fight is your fight. Because if Hamas and Iran’s axis of evil win, you will be their next target.
“That’s why Israel’s victory will be your victory.”
Mr Netanyahu was also asked about reports his support among the Israeli people has fallen considerably since Hamas’s attack took the country’s intelligence agency by surprise.
Asked if he would step down, the Israeli leader said: “The only thing that I intend to have resigned is Hamas. We’re going to resign them to the dustbin of history.
“That’s my goal. That’s my responsibility. That’s what I’m leading the country to do. This is my responsibility now. And it’s something that I think unites the entire country.”
Image: Young Palestinians walk in front of a damaged building in the aftermath of Israeli strikes
Image: Numerous Israeli tanks are seen gathered in southern Israel as the country prepares to extend its military operations in Gaza Tank ‘fires at car’ in Gaza
Meanwhile, Palestinian sources in Gaza have told Sky News that Israeli tanks are at Netzarim junction on the Salah Al Din road, the main highway which spans the entire length of the territory.
Gaza journalist Samy Zyara added that the territory is now split in two with people unable to travel between the north and south on the route.
Another Gaza journalist has shared a video with Sky News which shows a tank open fire on a car at the Netzarim junction which is in the north of the territory.
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Moment tank fires at car in central Gaza Yousaf Al Saifi said: “I saw the family in the car. They struck [the car] with a shell and they died. We saw it with our own eyes.”
It comes as Israel continues to pound Gaza, with residents on Monday reporting dozens of air strikes in the east of the territory.
Earlier today, Hamas released a video of three women who were among the more than 200 people taken hostage during the 7 October attacks.
Mr Netanyahu condemned the video as “cruel psychological propaganda”.
The women’s families have since appealed urgently for their release.
The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) also confirmed an Israeli soldier had been freed from Hamas captivity in Gaza in a ground operation on Monday.