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Netanyahu admits Israel's failure to impose alternative to Hamas in Gaza

May 16, 2024 at 2:03 pm

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu [ABIR SULTAN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images]

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu acknowledged yesterday his government’s failure to impose an alternative to the Hamas movement and involve local Palestinians in the administration of the Gaza Strip. He added that talk about “the day after” was “mere words devoid of content” as long as Hamas “remains intact”.

His comments came in a video clip in which he admitted that he had instructed the army to allow local Palestinians in the Strip to be involved in the process of managing the territory and distributing aid, but the attempts were unsuccessful. “Until it is clear that Hamas does not control Gaza militarily, nobody will be prepared to take upon himself the civil management of Gaza out of fear for their lives,” he claimed. Netanyahu’s statements are an implicit admission that Hamas still basically controls the Gaza Strip.

Furthermore, he renewed his government’s opposition to the UN resolution issued last week regarding recognition of the Palestinian state. “We will not reward the terrible massacre of 7 October, which 80 per cent of the Palestinians support, both in Gaza and in [the West Bank]. We will not allow them to establish a terrorist state from which they will be able to vigorously attack us. Nobody will prevent us, prevent Israel, from realising our basic right to self-defence – not the UN General Assembly or any other body.”

He added that the occupation forces are fighting in Rafah, the Zaytoun neighbourhood and Jabaliya, claiming that operations are taking place after the evacuation of Palestinian civilians.

The Israeli leader was responding to criticism by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken about Israel’s behaviour in the war against the Palestinians in Gaza. Blinken pointed out that Israel’s tactics caused “a horrible loss of life of innocent civilians” but “failed to neutralise Hamas leaders and fighters and could drive a lasting insurgency.” He said that Israel should “get out of Gaza.”

The US official explained that Hamas has resurfaced in parts of Gaza, and that the “heavy action” by Israeli forces in the southern city of Rafah risks leaving America’s closest ally in the Middle East “holding the bag on an enduring insurgency.”

He also noted that the US has worked with Arab countries and others for weeks to develop “credible plans for security, for governance, for rebuilding” in Gaza, adding, “we haven’t seen that come from Israel… We need to see that, too.”

In addition, he stressed that a deeper Israeli push into Rafah might achieve “some initial success,” but it would cause “terrible harm” to Palestinian civilians.

Tensions are growing between Netanyahu and US President Joe Biden over how to manage the war. In an interview last week, Biden said that his administration would not provide weapons that Israel could use to launch a comprehensive attack on Rafah.

READ: Why are the Palestinians not being asked who they want to govern in Gaza?