Israeli’s top leadership stands firm, “stronger than ever,” stated Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as he was joined by Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and Bennie Gantz, the Leader of the Opposition party, who is now part of the Israeli War Cabinet. Each individually gave a statement in Tel Aviv on Saturday evening.
Gantz’s participation sent a powerful message to Israelis, the entire global community, and Hamas leader inside Gaza, who perhaps is the most important person holding 200 international hostages in captivity.
Gantz had been sacked by Netanyahu earlier this year when Gantz publicly stated that Netanyahu’s push for judicial reform was tearing the country apart and putting Israel’s national security at risk.
Gantz’s presence with Gallant and Netanyahu on the world stage publicly could only be a severe punch to the gut for Yahya Sinwa, who was hoping that internal politics would weaken Israel.
Sinwar is now the leader of Hamas inside Gaza. He was one of the 1,027 prisoners in Israeli jails exchanged for one Israeli held in captivity for 5 years.
Each of the Israeli individually addressed their nation followed by a joint press conference after Israel’s conscious decision to increase its escalation of the second phase of the Israel Hamas conflict. For two nights, Israeli forces entered Gaza and retreated. Last night the IDF entered Gaza and they are still there.
Their messages were given with clarity and purpose.
The Israeli troops have entered the Halls of Evil and on a mission “to eliminate Hamas and bring back the hostages… this is our Second War of Independence,” stated Netanyahu. “The people and leadership are behind the troops…we fight for protection of our home land on land air and sea.
“This is the mission of our lives. This is the mission of my life, emphasized Netanyahu.
Netanyahu’s address on Saturday was different than earlier this week. His first was more a rallying cry. Saturdays’ message was the strongest message to the world - almost Churchillian in nature.
The prime minister recognized “Jews and non-Jews - left and right wings united with combative spirit and fight full force” with a mission to “completely eliminate Hamas from the world for benefit of Israel and humanity of the world.”
He said Israeli troops were “hero troops with one supreme main goal - completely defeat the enemy.”
“Never again is Now,” asserted the prime minister.
In referring to the hostages, Netanyahu sent a message to Sinwar and his supporters.
“Their abduction is a crime against humanity,” Netanyahu declared.
He reiterated that non-combatants in Gaza “must go south.”
He also sent a message to regional leaders and to other world leaders.
“Israel is fighting its own war. It is a war for humanity. If Israel does not win,” those countries “will be next,” sending a predictable yet chilling message of domino attacks.
“We have two options - exist or cease.”
“I have no doubt how it will end - triumphant” he stated emphatically
Also dressed in mourning black as were his two other colleagues, Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Gallant sternly stated, “We have moved to the next phase of war…air sea and on the ground - outside and inside Gaza.”
Gallant described the IDF’s response as “different...maneuvering in relevant places above and under ground, causing severe blows to Hamas.”
Gallant’s message addressed the assault and supporting forces.
He has “absolute trust” in all military branches, and Mossad. The troops on the ground and not just in Gaza were prepared if the conflict “expanded.”
Israel’s “Air Force is fully prepared for any other mission it receives,” warned Gallant.
Israel is taking care of their home front and focused on the captives exerting “every effort to bring hostages back home and dealing with a reality not dealt with in the past,” Gallant said.
The hostage situation is “not a secondary issue. It is of utmost importance,” he firmly asserted.
Calling the enemy known, he called Hamas a murderous operation that Live-streamed murders claiming Hamas does not care about a humanitarian issue accusing them of just wanting “to remove the pressure of war.”
Declaring it “not a short war,” but rather a “long war,” Gallant asked for “patience” for the “us versus them” war for victory over Hamas.
Next speaking was Benny Gantz completing the Israeli leadership portrait of a shoulder-to-shoulder message with no daylight between them.
“We fight together and want the reality of southern Israel to fundamentally change,” said Gantz. “We are operating on all fronts,” he declared, “exerting all effort to bring all hostages home” based upon a “moral duty as Israelis and Jews as leadership.”
“The Prime Minister and Minister and War Cabinet and all ministries understand our responsibility and pain and expectations of all Israelis” Gantz asserted.
He will be at the hostage families disposal as they jointly work to bring the hostages home while the government goes after the “inhumane enemy,” who continue to abuse the families.
With determination, he asserted the “inhuman enemy” will fail and because everyone pays a price, the enemy “must die.”
As for those Israeli critics, Gantz gave a heads up.
The US backing is important but, “We do not have a diplomatic stop watch - we will listen to friends, but we will do what is right for us,” Gantz declared.
“This is Absolute Evil v. Absolute Justice and Justice will win,” Gantz said.
In his closing, he quoted Churchill reminding the global audience that Israelis too “will protect our people,” and “never surrender” and coming out of this, he stated, the country “will be stronger and come out united.”
Following their statements, they took questions.
As the man who always sold himself as “Mr. Security,” Netanyahu was asked if he took responsibility for Oct 7?
Although his answer was measured, Netanyahu promised that after the war, answers will be provided and that “includes me as well,” and that investigation will result in “no stone unturned.”
But, in the meantime, “the most important mission was to save this country,” the prime minister said.
He told the press that they had had a difficult meeting with the hostages’ families presumably because of this escalation.
The prime minister reminded the reporters that the situation dictates the military measures taken to successfully save the hostages.
“The ground activities we expanded may achieve this goal as the minister [Gantz] had stated earlier.”
When asked if the contentious judicial reform could have led to the Hamas attacks, Netanyahu was firm.
“Judiciary review is not on the agenda. Together - we sit here today as one cohesive team. Our enemy wants to murder all of us - critics and supporters of Judiciary Reform,” responded Netanyahu.
He announced there is a 200% mobilization.
Everyone called to serve came to serve in the fight to “eliminated Hamas,” said Netanyahu.
The prime minister stated there was “no tension or consideration to move to next phase,” and that he “never wanted to strengthen Hamas. The IDF mission is to eliminate Hamas” and he promised, “We will complete this task.”
When asked about Iran’s responsibility in the Oct.7 attacks, Netanyahu reiterated what is well known.
“Iran supports Hamas - funds, organizes, guides and trains. We do not know if they were micro-managing [Oct. 7 attack], said Netanyahu. “Iran is main element in this axis of evil, but I cannot tell you if Iran was involved with micro-planning,” he added.
When asked about Hamas hostages exchanged for prisoners held by Israel, Netanyahu held back “divulging all intelligence,” but admitted it is “something to discuss,” but refused to say anything publicly as he said that in the second meeting with the hostages’ families, “You feel so helpless.”
We are considering this as a “side mission,” but cannot specify what we are doing or will do to achieve the release of the 200 plus hostages.
However this message is received by world leaders, both supporters who have publicly stood with Israel, or privately supporting Israel, or even critics, these three Israeli leaders have drawn the line in the sand.
This second phase marks an escalation for a long war with more elite Israeli troops now inside Gaza doing what airstrikes cannot.
Perhaps all three were playing to an audience of one - namely, Hamas’ leader in Gaza Yahya Sinwar.
Shortly after they spoke, Sinwar made the next move on the chessboard. Hamas is ready for an “immediate” prisoner swap with Israel.
“We are ready to conduct an immediate prisoner exchange deal that includes the release of all Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails in exchange for all prisoners held by the Palestinian resistance,” Sinwar said in a statement.
The question is whether Netanyahu, Gallant, Gantz and the Israeli War Cabinet believe that at this time that is believable and reaches their second goal - the elimination of Hamas for the very survivability of Israel as a nation.
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