Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave a rare interview to ABC News’ David Muir, portions of which were broadcast on Monday evening.
During the period of the Israel's war against Hamas, Netanyahu has made several speeches to the Israeli public and took questions from the press one time, but so far hasn’t answered questions in the format of a sit-down interview.
In one of the few comments by Israeli officials about what would happen with the Gaza Strip after the war, Netanyahu said that Israel would have to control it for the near future.
When asked by Muir who would control Gaza, Netanyahu replied: “Those who don’t want to continue the way of Hamas.”
“I think Israel will, for an indefinite period, have the overall security responsibility because we’ve seen what happens when we don’t have it… what we have is the eruption of Hamas terror on a scale we couldn’t imagine.”
During the interview on ABC News, Netanyahu also provided his most detailed comments regarding his personal responsibility for the government failures to protect Israelis on the morning of Oct. 7, when Hamas terrorists carried out a massacre in the Israeli border towns with the Gaza Strip.
“The first responsibility of government is to protect the people and clearly we didn’t live up to that,” Netanyahu said.
Muir then pressed Netanyahu if he shared in taking personal responsibility for the government failure, as Israeli army officials and other politicians have already done.
“I’ve said that they’re going to be very tough questions that are going to be asked and I’m going to be among the first to answer them,” Netanyahu replied.
“We’re not going to evade – the responsibility of the government is to protect the people and, clearly, that responsibility wasn’t met.”
Muir continued: “Do you believe that you should take any responsibility?”
“Of course, that's not a question. It's going to be resolved after the war,” Netanyahu said.
Regarding a general ceasefire that the United Nations has demanded, along with other international entities, Netanyahu refused to consider it until the hostages – some 240 Israeli and foreign citizens – were release. Instead, the prime minister stressed that only military action increases pressure on Hamas.
Netanyahu appeared open to the possibility of limited pauses in destroying Hamas targets under certain conditions.
“[U.S. President Joe Biden] himself has said that a ceasefire would be a surrender to Hamas… you would no more have it than you would have after the al-Qaeda bombings of the World Trade Center.”
However, the prime minister said that tactical fire pauses, “an hour here, an hour there,” could be arranged.
“We’ve had them before… we’ll check the circumstances in order to enable humanitarian goods to come in, or individual hostages to leave.”
He stressed that the U.S. administration agreed with him on the issue of a complete ceasefire, adding, “I think we stand together here.”
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.