Israeli PM says war cabinet under pressure as invasion enters 'second phase'

Ahram Online , Saturday 18 Nov 2023

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a televised speech on Saturday that his government is coming under increased pressure over its war in the Gaza Strip. In contrast, the defence minister announced the invasion had entered the "second phase" with no deal for those taken captive by Hamas in sight.

PM Netanyahu
Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a televised speech for the war cabinet in Israel on November 18, 2023.


“The United States and the world are putting great pressure on us, but we are repelling it, and we will continue the war,” Netanyahu said, stressing that he has been leading efforts to maintain US support for the war.

“I appreciate the United States, led by our friend Biden, which sees things exactly like us,” he said.

Netanyahu, who received domestic criticism for not being able to reach a deal on Israeli captives held by Hamas, assured Israelis that there was no change in policy. 

“We are working to continue the military manoeuvre,” Netanyahu said, stressing that he is still committed to returning those taken captive by Hamas.

He added that allowing two fuel trucks into Gaza daily was a US request to support water treatment and sewage systems and would help prevent the spread of diseases that may affect Israeli soldiers deployed in the strip.

Speaking after, Israeli defence minister Yoav Gallant announced that Israel’s war on the Gaza Strip had entered the “second phase”.

“We have moved to the second phase of the ground operation in the Gaza Strip,” he said, stressing that they are striking crucial Hamas targets “every day.”

“Every day that passes, there is less room for Hamas to move on the western side of Gaza City,” he said, reiterating that the war cabinet is still committed to returning those taken captive by Hamas.

“We have a high commitment to returning the kidnapped people, and this is my personal duty,” Gallant affirmed. At the same time, opposition leader Benny Gantz assured Israelis that the war on Gaza would continue with “great force”.

 “I support everyone who leads the war,” Gantz said, defying public calls in Israel for Netanyahu to resign.

“We must have a responsibility, and we are required to make difficult decisions that require consensus for the sake of internal and external legitimacy,” he stressed.

The televised speech comes as the war cabinet has come under increased international and domestic pressure in recent weeks as the army pushes on with its air and ground invasion of the Gaza Strip.

Since the beginning of the invasion, Israeli forces have carried out near-constant airstrikes on civilian-packed schools and densely populated areas and have raided hospitals and places of worship.

The Gaza health ministry says more than 12,000 Palestinians, many of them women and children, have so far been killed in the Israeli invasion.

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