Netanyahu says Israel could ‘conquer’ Hamas: PM vows to fight on and sets NO timeline for end of bombing as Russia joins Biden in calling for ceasefire and calls Gaza casualties ‘unacceptable’
Benjamin Netanyahu has promised Israel will ‘conquer’ Hamas and vowed to fight on during a meeting with foreign ambassadors today despite Russia joining the US in calling for a ceasefire.
‘There are only two ways that you can deal with them (Hamas): You can either conquer them, and that’s always an open possibility, or you can deter them, and we are engaged right now in forceful deterrence, but I have to say we don’t rule out anything,’ Netanyahu told foreign ambassadors in Tel Aviv on Wednesday.
Israel continued its ferocious bombardments in the Gaza Strip last night, with 122 bombs dropped by 52 jets in 25 minutes, destroying seven miles of Hamas tunnels.
So far the violence has claimed at least 227 lives – 215 Palestinians including almost 100 women and children, and 12 people in Israel, including two children.
But despite the civilian death toll Netanyahu told the ambassadors: ‘We’re not standing with a stopwatch. We want to achieve the goals of the operation. Previous operations lasted a long time so it is not possible to set a timeframe.’
A senior Russian official warned Israel’s ambassador today that any actions leading to a further increase in casualties were unacceptable, the Kremlin said.
France last night circulated a draft resolution at the UN security council following negotiations with Egypt and Jordan.
The move is said to have taken the US – which has three times blocked a joint statement condemning the violence – by surprise.
A resolution is a stronger step than a joint statement, and if all other members backed it then the US would have to issue a veto to stop it, something Joe Biden is thought to be reluctant to do.
A senior Israeli official also told news site Haaretz that Netanyahu is reluctant to stop the fighting without a ‘clear victory’, despite pressure from within the government to do so.
Elsewhere, Haaretz reported that ‘if there is no surprise turn of events’ then a ceasefire would be declared on Thursday – with similar reports also emerging in Egyptian media.
But Israel and Hamas were quick to deny the reports, with Israeli site Ynet reporting that while both sides agree on ending the conflict soon, each wants the other to stop shooting first.
Meanwhile Israel is braced for more violence in the West Bank today after violent protests near the town of Ramallah and Nablus on Tuesday, during which two IDF soldiers and three Palestinians were hurt in shootings.
Violent clashes also broke out around holy sites including Damascus Gate and the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem after a call for ‘a day of rage’ in solidarity with those in Gaza, Ynet reported.
The Israeli Defence Forces earlier revealed that they would like more time to complete their operation as it was revealed they had tried to kill Hamas’s top commander last week but he survived both of the attacks.