Netanyahu: Israel can never relinquish security control of areas west of the Jordan River
PM says operation in Gaza will continue until quiet is restored to Israel, blames Hamas for Gaza civilian casualties.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Friday that international pressure will not halt Israeli strikes in Gaza.
"No amount of international pressure will prevent Israel from continuing its operation in the Gaza Strip," Netanyahu told reporters at a press conference in the Defense Ministry's Kirya compound in Tel Aviv.
"We have struck over 1,000 targets in Gaza that belong to Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other terrorist organizations," he said, adding that Israel is striking Gaza at a rate twice as fast as during Operation Pillar of Defense. "The military operation in Gaza will continue until quiet is restored to the citizens of Israel," he said.
Netanyahu said that Hamas is to blame for the casualties in the Gaza Strip. "The leaders and operatives of Hamas are hiding behind the citizens of Gaza, and they are responsible for any harm inflicted on them." Unlike Hamas, who fire indiscriminately upon Israeli citizens, Israel strikes military targets only, Netanyahu said, acknowledging that civilians were also being hurt in the process.
When asked about a possible ground invasion into the Gaza Strip, Netanyahu said that the IDF was prepared for any scenario, and that "all options are on the table."
"The aggression being directed at Israel from within Gaza must be read as a direct result of Israel's 2005 withdrawal from the Strip," he said. The Israeli people understand now what I always say: there cannot be a situation, under any agreement, in which we relinquish security control of the territory west of the Jordan River.
"Perhaps today, people understand what I once said to John Kerry and General Allen: I live here, I know what needs to be done to ensure the safety of Israel's citizens."
As Netanyahu stepped away from the podium, one reporter called after him, and asked, "How long will the operation continue?" Netanyahu swerved around, returned to the microphone, paused for a second and then replied: "It will take time."
While the press conference was taking place, two long-range rockets were fired toward the greater Tel Aviv area. One was intercepted by the Iron Dome system, and the other landed in an open area.
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