Citizens of Israel,
First of all, I would like to embrace the families of the fallen, to which additional fallen heroes of Israel were added yesterday. The hearts of all of us go out to the families of Matan Meir, Yossi Hershkovitz, Sergey Shmerkin, Naty Harush and Moshe Yedidyah Leiter, the eldest son of my good friend and my former chief of staff, Yechiel Leiter, may G-d avenge our exemplary heroes.
From here, I say to all the families of our loved ones who have fallen in this difficult war: We are doing everything to be worthy of their sacrifice and their heroism. We will not stop until the mission is complete. The war against Hamas-ISIS is advancing at full force and it has one goal – victory. There is no substitute for victory. We will eliminate Hamas and bring back our hostages.
IDF forces have completed the encirclement of the city of Gaza. They are operating in the heart of the city and are on the outskirts of Shifa Hospital. They have eliminated thousands of terrorists including senior commanders and arch-murderers who were among those involved in the terrible massacre on the cursed Saturday of October 7.
Hamas has, in effect, lost control of the northern Gaza Strip. It has no place to hide there. From Sinwar to the last terrorist – all of Hamas are dead men. Our forces are attacking them above ground and underground. We will continue at full force, at full strength, until victory.
We are also prepared on the northern front. We are operating there with heavy fire – from the air and on the ground. I have warned Hezbollah: Do not make a mistake and enter the war because this will be the mistake of your lives. Your entry into the war will decide Lebanon’s fate.
We are also fighting on additional fronts. Every day, we are taking action against terrorism, its emissaries and militants, in Judea and Samaria, Lebanon, Syria, the Red Sea and anywhere necessary.
About our hostages, I hear all kinds of reports in the global media from unauthorized sources. I would like to reiterate: The return of our hostages is a main goal of the war. This goal is the top priority for me and my colleagues here. To this end, I convene in-depth discussions on a daily basis in the War Cabinet that I chair. When I meet with representatives of the families – this past Thursday, I had an additional very emotional meeting together with my wife – when I meet with them, I see the nightmare and the pain in their eyes. I tell them: ‘We will do everything to bring them back.’
About the hostages, my directive and that of the Cabinet is clear: There will be no ceasefire without the return of our hostages. I would also like to clarify that the holding of the international contacts on the release of the hostages is being carried out by Mossad Director David Barnea, with the assistance of Maj.-Gen. (Ret.) Nitzan Alon, and when we have something to say, something concrete, we will update the families and submit it to the full Government. Until then, prudence would dictate silence.
To the leaders of the Arab states, leaders who worry about the future of their countries and of the Middle East, I say one thing: You must come out against Hamas. In the 16 years of its tyranny, Hamas has brought disaster on Gaza. It has brought only two things to the residents of the Gaza Strip: Blood and poverty. Hamas is an integral part of the axis of terrorism led by Iran, and this axis of terrorism and evil endangers the entire Middle East, and the entire Arab world as well. I am convinced that many Arab leaders understand this.
We are also continuing to take action in the international sphere in order to provide our soldiers with leeway. Since the start of the war, we have worked to enlist the support of the US. I am in almost daily contact with President Biden. I very much appreciate his support. I appreciate the arrival of two aircraft carriers together with their support vessels in our region. I also appreciate the special submarine that has come here, the assistance in munitions, and the diplomatic and moral support of the American administration, as well as the broad moral support of the American people.
In American media interviews, I describe the horrors that Hamas perpetrated on October 7th. I make it clear that all free human beings, in the free countries, have a moral obligation to support Israel. I relate the heroism of our soldiers and civilians. I call for the return of our hostages and for vigorous opposition to any ceasefire that does not include the return of our hostages. I tell the Americans: You must also support our central goal – the elimination of Hamas, which is also your goal. I must tell you that most of the American public supports us in the policy that we are leading. True, there are also other voices, but we are fighting against them.
I am pleased that many leaders around the world have accepted my invitation to come to Israel and to support Israel. While their support is important to us, it does not mean that from time to time no disagreements come up; it happens. It also happens because in some of these countries there are minorities that are pressuring their leaders. I tell them: Do not give in to the pressure. Our war is also your war. We must win this war for us but also for you.
In any case, I would like to make it clear: No international pressure, or reviling of IDF soldiers and our state will change our faith in the justice of our cause and in our right and our obligation to defend ourselves.
As Prime Minister of Israel, I represent the only state of the 3,500-year-old Jewish people. You are our marvelous people, our wonderful citizens, Jews and non-Jews alike. The great heritage that we all represent gives us the strength to stand steadfast to the world if necessary.
As to the talk about the day after, this will only come after Hamas has been eliminated, and Gaza is demilitarized and no longer able to threaten the State of Israel. In order to ensure that there is no such threat, the IDF will continue to have security control over the Gaza Strip for as long as necessary to prevent terrorism from it. The massacre on October 7th proved once and for all wherever there is no Israeli security control, terrorism will return and establish itself; therefore, I will not agree to concede security control under any circumstances.
Citizens of Israel, today we are all united. We understand basic things: Hamas needs to be eliminated. If we want to ensure the future of the State of Israel – Hamas needs to be eliminated. This is what Israel must do and this is what Israel will do. Together we will fight and with G-d’s help, together we will win.”