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Netanyahu: We will persist until Hamas eliminated, hostages returned and Gaza safe for Israel

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits the Nevatim Air Base, Jan. 17, 2024 (Photo: Kobi Gideon/GPO)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the Nevatim Air Base in southern Israel on Wednesday, beginning with the 116th Squadron, which is also known as the “Lions of the South.”

The squadron flies the F-35i fifth-generation stealth aircraft, known in Israel as the 'Adir.'

The Israeli prime minister toured the squadron and received a comprehensive briefing from the base commander, Brig.-Gen. Yotam Sigler, and the 116th Squadron commander, Lt.- Col. D. 

The briefing focused on the squadron’s “activity up until now in the fighting in all sectors, and on its various missions: Assisting the ground forces in Gaza, attacks in the northern sector, discovering and intercepting hostile aerial targets, and other missions,” according to Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits the Nevatim Air Base, Jan. 17, 2024 (Photo: Kobi Gideon/GPO)

Netanyahu told the personnel at Squadron 116 that the war would continue until all goals were achieved.

“The war continues and it will continue until the end, until we complete all our goals: The return of the abductees; the elimination of Hamas; and the assurance that Gaza will no longer pose a threat to Israel. Let there be no mistake; we will persist in the fight on land, at sea, and in the air until complete victory,” the prime minister said.

At the air base, Netanyahu also visited the Maof Rahav unit, a joint Air Force-Intelligence Branch unit, that helps to improve the identification of targets in order to eliminate and destroy enemy capabilities.

On Tuesday, Netanyahu reportedly told local council heads of southern Israeli communities that the war could even last until 2025. The meeting, which took place at the IDF’s Southern Command headquarters in Beersheva, was also attended by other members of the War Cabinet.

During the meeting, local council chiefs said most residents are still concerned about ongoing rocket fire from Gaza, as well as other security issues, and are not ready to return to their homes yet.

In a recent meeting between U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Netanyahu, Blinken said that Hamas cannot be removed by military force alone and that a two-state solution is necessary to break what the U.S. calls “cycles of violence.”

The Biden administration suggested a normalization deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia in exchange for concrete steps towards a two-state solution and the establishment of a Palestinian state, however, the proposal was rejected by Netanyahu, according to a report by the NBC news outlet.

The U.S. proposal was reportedly a Saudi government initiative, suggesting that the Saudi Kingdom would finance the reconstruction of Gaza after the war and help to establish a new government in Gaza, led by a reformed Palestinian Authority, in exchange for signing a normalization deal with Israel.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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