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‘Victory gives us hope for the Middle East,’ Netanyahu tells Fox News

Israeli prime minister minimizes differences between himself and Biden

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in an interview on FOX News Sunday (Photo: Screenshot)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke with Shannon Bream on FOX News Sunday, answering questions about the planned IDF incursion into Rafah, as well as current relations between Netanyahu and U.S. President Joe Biden. 

Bream started the interview by asking Netanyahu if freeing the hostages and defeating Hamas are mutually exclusive goals. 

“They’re not mutually exclusive. In fact, they’re mutually compatible because the only thing that will get the hostages released is the thing that will defeat Hamas, which is a sustained military effort,” Netanyahu responded.

The Israeli prime minister further claimed that it was the intense military pressure that led to Hamas negotiating the first round of hostage release deals in November.

The premier continued by stating, contrary to some reports, that “victory is within reach.” 

Netanyahu reported that Israeli forces have already defeated 18 of the 24 Hamas terror battalions, with only six remaining in Rafah. 

“We’re not going to leave the other six,” he stated. 

Netanyahu also addressed the humanitarian issue in Rafah, and said he had tasked the IDF with developing a plan to move the civilian population in Gaza to safety before ground operations begin in the southern town, located near Gaza's border with Egypt.

“I agree with the U.S., and I’ve instructed the army accordingly to give us a plan, a dual plan,” Netanyahu said. “One, to vacate the civilian population, because we’re not fighting them. We’re fighting the terrorists. And secondly, to destroy those remaining battalions.” 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in an interview on Fox News (Photo: Screenshot)

Affirming that the IDF has “cleared out” and “destroyed most of the Hamas terrorist infrastructure in the rest of the Gaza Strip,” Netanyahu said there is now “plenty of room north of Rafah for them to go.” 

Bream asked Netanyahu about the remarks made by Biden last Thursday when he called Israel’s response in Gaza “over the top.” 

“I don’t know what he meant by that,” Netanyahu replied. He refused to address the perceived criticism by Biden, instead directly responding to the claim that Israel was overreacting.

The prime minister referred to military historian John Spencer, who recently wrote in Newsweek magazine that Israel “has taken more measures to avoid needless civilian harm than virtually any other nation that's fought an urban war.” 

“We’re putting flyers in there. We’re calling on the cell phones, Palestinian civilians telling them to get out of harm’s way,” Netanyahu said. “Hamas is trying to keep them in harm’s way at gunpoint and often with gunfire.” 

The premier also argued that victory over Hamas is the only way to achieve hope for the Middle East. 

“We should all strive for that common target to destroy Hamas,” Netanyahu said, because that gets all the other objectives within our purview. It also gets something else. It gives us hope for the Middle East, hope for peace. You can’t have that with Hamas remaining intact.” 

The Israeli leader argued that failing to defeat Hamas would be like leaving the Nazi party in Germany after World War II, or leaving ISIS in control of some part of Iraq. 

“This is a battle of the forces of civilization against the worst forces of barbarism on the planet,” Netanyahu told Bream. “We have to win not only for our sake but for the sake of our common civilization.” 

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

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