Israeli PM Netanyahu spoke to foreign press this evening. IsraeliPM on Twitter
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Israeli PM Netanyahu says ceasefire in Gaza would be 'surrender to Hamas'

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that “now is a time for war”.

LAST UPDATE | Oct 30th 2023, 6:35 PM

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU HAS claimed a ceasefire in The Gaza Strip will be a “surrender to Hamas” in a press conference to foreign press this evening.

During the same event, the Israeli Prime Minister squashed any idea of a ceasefire taking place, claiming that it would not happen.

“I want to make clear Israel’s position regarding a ceasefire,” Netanyahu said. “Just as the United States would not agree to a ceasefire after the bombing of Pearl Harbour of after the terrorist attack of 9/11, Israel will not agree to a cessation of hostilities with Hamas after the horrific attacks of 7 October.”

“Calls for ceasefire are calls for Israel to surrender to Hamas, to surrender to terrorism, to surrender to barbarism. That will not happen,” he said.

Many leaders and organisations, including Irish MEPs and the World Health Organisation, have made calls for a ceasefire over the last week.

Speaking on RTÉ Radio One on Saturday, Dr Margaret Harris, a spokesperson for the World Health Organisation (WHO), said the only solution is to have a ceasefire in the region.

“The only solution here – the only solution – is to have an immediate ceasefire. That’s on humanitarian grounds,” Harris said.

Social Democrats TD Gary Gannon also called for there to be a ceasefire and said that the communications blackout has been carried out by Israel in order for them to have a tighter control on the narrative from the war.

Since, the United States has pressed Israel to restore internet access to the Gaza Strip and was pleased that Israel had followed suit.

“We made clear to the government of Israel over the weekend that communications networks needed to be restored and we are pleased that they took steps to do that,” State Department spokesman Matthew Miller told reporters.

On Thursday, EU leaders, including Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, reached an agreement calling for “humanitarian corridors and pauses” in the Israel-Hamas conflict, but falling short of demanding a “ceasefire”.

EU LEO Leo Varadkar speaks to European leaders at the EU Council meeting in Brussels on Thursday. ALEXANDROS MICHAILIDIS ALEXANDROS MICHAILIDIS

Speaking later, Varadkar said “it’s hard to predict’ if the European Union will call for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in the future, stating if that position is eventually reached it would only be “after a lot more people have died and suffered in the region”. 

A number of Irish MEPs stalled a similar vote this month, where the European Parliament agreed there to be “humanitarian pauses” in the region.

Fine Gael MEP Colm Markey told The Journal last week that there needs to be calls for a ceasefire in the region.

Markey, along with several other Irish MEPs, was the only Irish EPP (Fine Gael’s European Parliamentary group) who signed a joint-letter calling for a ceasefire in the region on Thursday.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell demanded on Saturday a “pause of hostilities” to allow humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip after the bombing intensified in the coastal territory.

“Far too many civilians, including children, have been killed. This is against International Humanitarian Law,” he said on social media.

Hostages must be freed ‘immediately’

Netanyahu said that other countries must give more help in the struggle to free more than 230 hostages seized by Hamas in its 7 October attacks.

He said the international community must demand the captives “be freed immediately, unconditionally”.

On Saturday, Hamas said it would free all the hostages it captured on 7 October if Israel promised to free all Palestinian prisoners from its state. This prisoner swap suggestion was immediately shot down by Netanyahu.

copenhagen-denmark-30th-oct-2023-yossef-avi-yair-yoav-angel-daniel-elgarat-amit-parpara-and-ofir-tamir-seen-from-left-relatives-of-hostages-in-gaza-meet-the-danish-press-in-the-danish-parlia Families of Israelis, held hostage in Gaza, spoke today in Denmark - calling for their release. Alamy Alamy

Earlier the Israeli Defence Forces confirmed that a female soldier, who was taken hostage by Hamas on 7 October, has been freed by the militant group.

“Last night, soldier Ori Megidish was released during a ground operation after being kidnapped by Hamas on October 7,” the army said in a statement.

“The soldier was medically checked, is doing well, and has met with her family.”

Over 230 hostages still remain captured in Gaza by Hamas. Netanyahu said today that the international community should be calling for the release of the hostages 

‘Systemic progress’

Meanwhile, Israeli tanks have been seen entering the outskirts of Gaza City today, witnesses told journalists from the AFP news agency by phone.

Witness reports added that Israeli forces have blocked the main north-south Gaza highway.

This comes as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his war cabinet today that Israel is making “systematic progress” in its military campaign against Hamas in Gaza.

Netanyahu said the Israeli army “has expanded its ground entry into the Gaza Strip, it is doing it in measured, very powerful steps, making systematic progress one step at a time”, according to an official video statement.

Israel said its forces last night killed “dozens” of militants on clashes as it pressed forward with its military response to Hamas attacks earlier this month.

The Israeli army said “troops killed dozens of terrorists who barricaded themselves in buildings and tunnels and attempted to attack the troops”, and that a fighter jet had targeted a building “with over 20 Hamas terrorist operatives inside”.

Earlier, Hamas said it was engaged in “heavy fighting” with Israeli troops inside northern Gaza, where besieged residents were again told to flee.

“They are firing at any vehicle that tries to go along it,” one resident said.

palestinians-evacuate-survivors-of-the-israeli-bombardment-of-the-gaza-strip-in-rafah-on-monday-oct-30-2023-ap-photohatem-ali Palestinians evacuate survivors in the Israeli bombardment of The Gaza Strip today. Alamy Alamy

The army said it had hit “more than 600 targets in the past 24 hours”, up from 450 the previous day, and killed “dozens” of militants. Hamas militants also reported “heavy fighting” in northern Gaza.

After weeks of ferocious air strikes, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has declared a new “stage” in what he warned will be a “long and difficult” war.

Israel’s military released a series of images late last night purporting to show tanks, armoured personnel carriers, artillery and equipment-laden infantrymen operating inside Palestinian territory.

With a fierce urban war now feared, Israeli army spokesman Daniel Hagari told Palestinian civilians to go south “to a safer area”

Although huge numbers of Gazans have heeded Israel’s warning to flee south, tens of thousands more are believed to remain in the area.

“We are gradually expanding the ground activity and the scope of our forces in the Gaza Strip,” he said.

Speaking this evening, Netanyahu said: “Ladies and gentleman, the Bible said ‘There is a time for peace and there is a time for war’. This is a time for war.”

It is now more than three weeks since Hamas gunmen launched a wave of bloody cross-border raids against homes, communities, farms and security posts inside Israel.

An estimated 1,400 people, mostly civilians, were killed and 239 people were taken hostage, according to the latest Israeli tallies.

Grieving and enraged, Israel has vowed to free the hostages, track down those responsible and “eradicate” Hamas, a Palestinian Islamist movement that has governed Gaza since 2007.

But there is growing international concern about the toll of Israel’s campaign on Gaza’s 2.4 million residents. The territory is under siege, with people unable to leave and only a trickle of humanitarian aid allowed in.

Meanwhile, Israel has carried out one of the most intense bombing campaigns in recent memory. Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry says more than 8,000 people, mainly civilians, have been killed, many of them children.

The UN also reported that 33 trucks carrying water, food and medical supplies had entered Gaza from Egypt on 29 October.

It is one of the largest deliveries to date, but still far short of the 100 trucks a day that aid groups say is needed. International Criminal Court lead prosecutor Karim Khan warned Israel yesterday that preventing access to humanitarian aid could be a “crime”.

Includes reporting by © AFP 2023