Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel will not “seek to occupy Gaza” after the end of the current conflict between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas.
“We don’t seek to conquer Gaza, we don’t seek to occupy Gaza and we don’t seek to govern Gaza,” Netanyahu said in a Fox News interview that aired Thursday.
“We’ll have to find a government, a civilian government that will be there, but in the foreseeable future, we have to make sure that this doesn’t happen again,” Netanyahu continued.
Netanyahu’s new comments conflict with comments he made at the beginning of the week in which he said Israel will take “overall security responsibility” in Gaza after the war.
“I think Israel will, for an indefinite period, will have the overall security responsibility, because we’ve seen what happens when we don’t have it,” Netanyahu said in an interview with ABC News on Monday. “When we don’t have that security responsibility, what we have is the eruption of Hamas terror on a scale that we couldn’t imagine.”
“We’re having active discussions with our Israeli counterparts about what post-conflict Gaza looks like,” White House national security spokesperson John Kirby told reporters Tuesday. “The president maintains his position that reoccupation by Israeli forces is not the right thing to do.”
Israeli forces started a ground operation into Gaza late last month, even amid warnings that the operation could worsen an already dire humanitarian situation in the territory. More than 10,000 Palestinians have died since the start of the war at the beginning of last month, the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry has said.
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Author: Tara Suter