Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said on Tuesday that he has three missions in Gaza: stopping rockets; stopping Hamas building-up its power; and returning Israeli captives held in the coastal enclave.
"We were on a round [of fighting] four months ago, before my time… Hamas fired rockets at Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, and here we are at the exact same point," Bennett told Israel's Ynet News. "Hamas is a jihadist organisation that has made it its motto to fight us to the end."
The prime minister explained that he is responsible for the security of the citizens of the State of Israel and the residents of the south in particular. "I can't ignore [Hamas's] military build-up for the sake of peace."
There are four Israelis being held in Gaza, including two captured during the 51-day Israeli military offensive against the besieged enclave in 2014, during which Israel killed 2,260 Palestinians. Bennett said that he would agree to a prisoner swap with Hamas, but on his terms, which include his refusal to release any Palestinian convicted of killing Israelis.
According to rights groups, Israel holds more than 4,650 Palestinians prisoners, including 40 women, 200 minors and 520 under administrative detention, with neither charge nor trial.