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Netanyahu: Killing 300 Gaza protesters was ‘wise’ decision

Israeli forces attack protesters during the Great March of Return on 11 January 2019 [Mohammed Asad/Middle East Monitor]
Israeli forces attack protesters during the Great March of Return on 11 January 2019 [Mohammed Asad/Middle East Monitor]

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel used force “wisely” in the Gaza Strip, as Israeli soldiers have killed “more than 300” Palestinians near the eastern fence of the besieged enclave.

In an interview with Israel Hayom, Netanyahu said: “More than 300 Palestinians have been killed near the border when they tried to breach the fence and abduct our soldiers. We have used force wisely, and powerfully.”

Netanyahu also said that his government’s policy led Hamas, the ruler of the besieged Strip, to suffer the severest economic crisis. “They [Gazans] are in enormous economic distress, and Hamas is in check and wants some quiet so it can stand up to the huge pressure in Gaza,” he said.

He added: “The economic distress is its own problem, but the humanitarian distress is our problem. Issues with sanitation, disease, things that could make their way to us. So we’re saying: Prevent problems from occurring and create deterrence. The goal is deterrence, but so is preventing environmental and humanitarian problems that could harm Israel.”

READ: Medical NGO: ‘What would be unimaginable elsewhere has become normal here in Gaza’

Asked how to “deal” with Gaza, Netanyahu replied: “The real choice is to occupy and govern Gaza. You don’t have anyone to give it to. I won’t give it to Abu Mazen [Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas].

“The connection between Gaza and [the occupied West Bank] has been broken. They are two separate entities, and I think that in the long term, that’s not something that’s bad for Israel,” he added.

“Abu Mazen brought that upon himself. He cut back the influx of PA funds [to Gaza]. He thought that by doing so, he could send Gaza up in flames. We would pay for the occupation of Gaza with a heavy loss of life, and on Israel’s back he [Abbas] would get Gaza on a silver platter. That won’t happen.”

He continued: “The money he cut is Palestinian money. Israel isn’t paying. That money was covered by the Qataris and stopped Abu Mazen’s plan from coming to fruition, as well as cutting Gaza off from [the West Bank].”

“If anyone thought there would be a Palestinian state that would surround us on both sides. That isn’t something that’s going to happen.”

READ: Netanyahu: I offered Gaza to many Arab leaders, they refused

Regarding Israel’s relations with US President Donald Trump and his so-called “deal of the century”, he said: “I’m not coordinated with him. I laid out three basic principles for him and his people. I really hope they are expressed in the plan: 1) We won’t evacuate a single settler. Not only any settlement, not a single settler; 2) We will retain control over the entire area west of the Jordan River. We will have a permanent presence. That is the main sovereign authority that we will retain in any situation; and 3) We will not divide Jerusalem.”

Netanyahu also revealed what happened when he presented his principles to US officials. “When I presented these principles to [former] Vice President [Joe] Biden when he was here, he told me, that’s not a country. I said, ‘Joe, define it however you want, these are my terms and I won’t retreat from them.’ That’s what I told Trump and his representatives [Jared] Kushner and [Jason] Greenblatt.”

He also pledged that he would not remove any illegal settler from the occupied West Bank: “I’m not willing to uproot any Jew. That includes settlements outside the big blocs.”

When asked whether he would annex area C of the occupied West Bank, which amounts to approximately 60 per cent of the territory, he replied: “I promise you there will be surprises. I can’t tell you anything about the plan, but President Trump is a great friend, and I’m doubtful we’ll ever have a better one in the future.”

READ: Netanyahu promised no deal with Hamas until release of soldier’s remains, claims family

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