Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Saturday that his forces had entered the “second stage” of the war with the Hamas terror group, calling the fight a “second War of Independence”.
“The war inside the Gaza Strip will be long and difficult and we are prepared for it,” Netanyahu said during a news conference in the evening local time. “This is our second War of Independence.”
“We will fight for the defense of the motherland,” he continued. “We will fight and not retreat. We will fight on land, sea and air. We will destroy the enemy above ground and underground. We will fight and win.”
“The war inside the Gaza Strip will be long and difficult and we are prepared for it,” he added, saying the war is now “my life’s mission.”
FAMILIES OF ISRAELI HOSTAGES HELD HAMAS MEET WITH NETANYAHU
Netanyahu spoke at the end of a difficult week for Israel, with more debate and frustration on both sides of the conflict as some world leaders called for a humanitarian ceasefire or ceasefire. The United Nations passed several resolutions and approved a call for a cease-fire, which Israel categorically rejected and described as “despicable.”
Tensions remained high as Israel continued to make incursions into Gaza ahead of a long-awaited ground invasion: Allies reportedly urged Israel to hold back while negotiations over the 220 hostages stalled, frustrating Israeli leadership that accused Hamas of using the negotiations to delay and reconstruction.
Instead of wide–scale of the ground invasion, Netanyahu announced on Saturday the “second phase of the war, the goals of which are clear: The destruction of Hamas’ military and governmental capabilities and the return of the hostages to their homes.”
NATO ALLY ANNOUNCES HAMAS ‘FIGHTERS OF FREEDOM’, CONDEMNS ISRAEL AS A ‘WAR CRIMINAL’
“We decided to expand ground operations unanimously – both in the War Cabinet and the Civil Security Cabinet,” Netanyahu said. “We did so in a prudent and informed manner, out of our commitment to ensure the fate of the state and to ensure the safety of our soldiers.”
“We did so in a prudent and informed manner, out of our commitment to ensure the fate of the state and to ensure the safety of our soldiers,” he continued. “Commanders and fighters now fighting in enemy territory know that the people and the people’s leadership stand behind them.”
Netanyahu invoked the history of the Jewish people, recalling Joshua Ben-Nun, Judah Maccabee and Bar Kochba – heroes of the Jewish people – as well as the famous victories in the Six Day War and the Yom Kippur War, as well as the famous chorus, never again, never again.”
SUPER PALESTINIAN PROTESTERS SCALE PART OF BROOKLYN BRIDGE
He repeated warnings about how Hamas operates – using civilians as human shields and hiding under hospitals to carry out their operations, while manipulating international law for protection. He argued that Israel’s allies in the “Western world and … the Arab world, understand today that if Israel does not win, they will be next in line in the campaign to conquer and kill the axis of evil.”
In an Op-Ed published Saturday in the New York Times, former US Middle East envoy Dennis Ross claimed he had spoken with allies across the Middle East over the past two weeks and found that Arab officials understood “that Hamas must be destroyed in Gaza,” since any perceived victory for the terrorists “will validate the group’s ideology of rejection, give leverage and leverage to Iran and its partners, and put their own governments on the defensive.”
Netanyahu drew on this existential threat at the climax of his speech, stressing that the war on Hamas is a fight “to be or to stop,” but insisted that Israel will succeed, saying, “we will be and we will win” but admission that the war would not end quickly.
CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP
“In the first weeks of the war, we crushed the enemy with massive airstrikes and in the last days with increasing force, in order to help our forces enter the ground in the safest way possible,” he said. “We’ve taken out countless killers, including many assassins, we’ve destroyed countless terrorist headquarters and infrastructure – we’re only at the beginning of the road.”