Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel will have an “indefinite” presence in the Gaza Strip going forward, despite the Biden administration’s pleas not to occupy the region, ABC News reported Monday.

Israel continues to launch airstrikes and increase its ground assault in Gaza in an effort to root out Hamas, which killedover 1,400 Israelis and kidnapped hundreds of civilians on Oct. 7. Netanyahu said that Israel will take control of Gaza’s security indefinitely and that a “general ceasefire” with Hamas is off the table unless all hostages are released, during an interview with ABC’s David Muir.

“President Biden has said that it would be a mistake to occupy Gaza,” Muir said. “Who should govern Gaza when this is over?”

“Israel will, for an indefinite period, have the overall security responsibility,” Netanyahu responded. “We’ve seen what happened when we don’t have that … what we have is the eruption of Hamas terror on a scale we couldn’t imagine.”

President Joe Biden said in October that it would be a “big mistake” for Israel to occupy Gaza, according to The New York Times. The Biden administration has pushed Israel to take a “pause” in its counteroffensive efforts so that humanitarian aid can be delivered to civilians in Gaza.

Netanyahu said Israel has already taken such pauses, but ruled out a general ceasefire unless Hamas releases all its hostages.

“The question of a ceasefire, the president himself said that a ceasefire would be a surrender to Hamas,” Netanyahu told Muir. “There will be no general ceasefire in Gaza without the release of our hostages.”

Netanyahu also took a moment to address a potential threat from Hezbollah, a Lebanese-based terror group positioned against Israel’s northern border, and Iran, which supports and directs a multitude of terror groups, including Hamas and Hezbollah.

“I think they’ve understood that if they enter the war in a significant way, the response will be very, very powerful,” Netanyahu said. “I hope they don’t make that mistake.”

The White House and State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Jake Smith on November 7, 2023

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