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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he would not allow any threat in the Gaza Strip and would not allow any outside forces to ensure Gaza remained demilitarized, while his Defense Minister Yoav Galant said Israel's presence was contingent on victory in the war.

Netanyahu, during a joint press conference with Galant and war cabinet member Benny Gantz, stressed that the war will not stop unless its stated goals are achieved, and that he will not accept the presence of any non-Israeli forces to ensure that Gaza remains demilitarized after the fighting ends.

Netanyahu made many allegations about resistance fighters assaulting female civilian detainees, some of whom were raped and ill-treated by Hamas, and criticized "the silence of international organizations and UN women on these crimes just because they were committed to Jewish women."

Regarding the course of the war, Netanyahu said that he had ordered continued fighting in the southern Gaza Strip, that the ground had shaken in Khan Yunis and Jabalya, and that half of Hamas leaders had been killed in the war, he said.

"I told the families of the kidnapped (prisoners and detainees) that we are working to return everyone and that the war serves this goal," he said, stressing that "there is strong intelligence working around the clock to recover the military and civilians, and we are on the right track."

Netanyahu said that his army is currently dismantling the Hamas brigades, and that he eliminated the commander of the Shujaiya battalion who led the attack on the seventh of October (the Al-Aqsa flood), adding, "We surrounded the leaders of Hamas and our soldiers are fighting face to face, eliminating the saboteurs and our hand is supreme and we will fight until the great victory."

A high price tag

But Israel is paying a heartbreaking price for losing so many soldiers, Netanyahu said, who nevertheless stressed that the war would continue until Hamas was eliminated, prisoners were recovered and there was no support for terrorism in Gaza.

Netanyahu said that "post-war Gaza" should be demilitarized, and that this would be done by the Israeli army alone, stressing that he would not accept any force to ensure that it remained demilitarized.

"We have seen what happened from international forces in other demilitarized zones, and I say to those who are pressuring us to end the war that the only way (to stop the war) is to hit Hamas a crushing blow, and this is your war too and you must stand with us," he said.

Addressing those pushing for a halt to the war, Netanyahu said: "I say to you in English and in all languages: stand with us. Stand with Israel."

In response to a question about a disagreement between him and the defense minister, who ordered a strike on Hezbollah without reference to him, Netanyahu said that they have a common goal that they are working to achieve in the north and south (the borders of Lebanon and Gaza), and what we are doing to deter Hezbollah supports our security in Gaza.

"I think this is the right way to win, and everyone agrees with me on this, because the threat of Hamas and Hezbollah is facing all of us. Minister Gallant and I are working with great cooperation in the War Council and the expanded government."

Existence is contingent on this war

Gallant also stressed that the army was paying a heavy price in the war, which he said Israel's presence in the region was contingent on victory.

"We are striking Hamas from land, sea, air and through intelligence, and we are achieving great, exciting and accurate results," Gallant said, adding that "this war has very high prices, because victory must be overwhelming and accurate and achieve the goal of striking Hamas, dismantling its military and authoritarian authority and recovering the kidnapped (captive)."

Gallant said he visited Gaza's southern border on Monday and saw the fighting for himself: "I've seen the meticulous fighting, and I know that combatants don't leave a tunnel or a place for weapons or rockets. They are eliminating every threat by all available means and in cooperation with all agencies."

"What happened in Gaza City is happening now in Khan Younis," he said, describing the results after five days of renewed fighting as "significant."

"Hamas is currently aware that neither Iran nor Hezbollah can help it, and that it is at the disposal of the IDF," Gallant said, adding, "We will dismantle all threats, Hamas's chain of command and its weapons depots."

"I say to those who have recently asked about the legitimacy of continuing the war: we will not stop until Hamas is eliminated and the kidnapped are recovered, and we are increasing military pressure in order to achieve this goal," he said.

Gallant concluded by saying that Israeli soldiers "face risks in order to carry out military and intelligence operations to retrieve the abductees, and we are fighting an inevitable war, and we will not have a presence in the region unless we win this war and eliminate Hamas as a system."

Benny Gantz, a member of the war mini-council, said Israel was currently expanding its ground operations in the Gaza Strip as we had committed, adding, "We are proving that nothing stops us and that Israel determines its future. We work in the north, south and everywhere and do what is good for Israel."

Like Netanyahu and Galant, Gantz also said that this war "comes at a great price, and we are making great and joint efforts to recover the kidnapped."

"Tomorrow the budget will be presented in the first reading, and there are great challenges in the war and the economy, and we will look at those who have been evacuated and called from the reserves, and we will make adjustments to the budget," he said, stressing that the leadership "is facing a test and we must act responsibly."

The occupation army began intensifying its strikes in the southern Gaza Strip with the withdrawal of most of its forces from the north due to the severity of the blows it suffered, as confirmed by the resistance last Sunday.

Source : Al Jazeera