Not planning to conquer, occupy or govern Gaza: Israel

Israel’s Prime Minister has cleared the air of the final goal of Israel’s ongoing military offensive against the Palestinian terror group Hamas, saying the country is not seeking to conquer, occupy or govern the Gaza Strip after its war ends. Benjamin Netanyahu told a US television that a “credible force” would be needed to enter the enclave if necessary to prevent the emergence of militant threats.

“We don’t seek to conquer Gaza, we don’t seek to occupy Gaza, and we don’t seek to govern Gaza,” he said, adding that a civilian government would be required, but that Israel would also need to ensure that an attack like that of 7 October, in which Hamas killed about 1,400 people, doesn’t happen again. “So, we have to have a credible force that, if necessary, will enter Gaza and kill the killers. Because that’s what will prevent the re-emergence of a Hamas-like entity,” he said.

Netanyahu’s comments earlier this week had suggested Israel would be responsible for security in Gaza, drawing a critical response from the US.

Meanwhile, Palestinian militant outfit Islamic Jihad in Gaza released a video on Thursday showing an elderly woman and a young boy who were among around 240 hostages seized by gunmen who attacked Israel on October 7.

In the video making rounds of the internet, the group said it was prepared to release the two — a woman in her 70s and a 13-year-old boy — for humanitarian and medical reasons once appropriate conditions were met. “We are ready to release them on humanitarian grounds when the security conditions on the ground are met,” said in the video Abu Hamza, spokesman for the group’s military wing, according to AFP.

In the video, Hanna Katsir, a woman in her 70s, is pictured sitting in a wheelchair. She was taken from kibbutz Nir Oz on 7 October. The other is a young boy. Negotiations about the fate of the around 240 hostages in Gaza are intense and have been going on for weeks, and the prospect of some kind of deal to release them has moved in and out of focus, the BBC’s Paul Adams says.