PM Netanyahu: We are currently intensifying the fight against Hamas. Step by step, we are wiping out Hamas's capabilities. Hamas will be defeated. Our soldiers will win. The people of Israel will win.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, this evening (Saturday, 30 December 2023), at his press conference, at the Kirya in Tel Aviv [translated from Hebrew]:
"Citizens of Israel,
The war is continuing. We are fighting on all fronts. We have major successes but we have also paid a painful price. Achieving victory requires more time. Just as the Chief of Staff said this week: 'The war will continue for many more months.'
My policy is clear: We are continuing to fight until the goals of the war have been achieved, especially the elimination of Hamas and the release of all our hostages. We are not relenting – even for a moment – in our efforts to bring our hostages back home, even at this very moment. We will ensure that Gaza no longer constitutes a threat to Israel, that there will be no element in it that finances terrorism, educates its children for terrorism and pays the families of terrorists.
We have additional important missions: To restore security in both the south and the north, to restore prosperity to the kibbutzim, moshavim and cities that have been attacked, and to return the residents to their homes.
As Prime Minister, I have rejected the international pressure aimed at stopping the war before we achieve these goals. I appreciate the US support for Israel, as this was expressed last week in the UN Security Council and in the approval that was given yesterday by the American administration for the supply of additional war materiel for the IDF.
Dear citizens of Israel,
I greatly appreciate your determination and patience. Wherever I meet you, I hear the same words: 'Continue; don't stop.' I hear this from all sections of the people. I hear it from the families of our fallen heroes, from those who have been wounded, and, of course, from our brave soldiers and commanders who I meet with in the field, including inside Gaza. They all tell me the same thing: 'Continue until absolute victory.'
In order to achieve absolute victory, in order to accomplish all of our goals, more time is required. We are working non-stop with determination and strength. I would like to emphasize that we are doing so while safeguarding the lives of our soldiers as much as possible. We are directing strong fire from the air and by land in order to strike our enemies, while watching over the security of our forces and the well-being of our hostages.
We are currently intensifying the fight against Hamas. In addition to continuing activity in the northern Gaza Strip and parallel to the battles in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip, our forces are attacking the terrorists in the central Gaza Strip. They are fighting with force and new methods, above and below ground. This is very complex fighting but we have the upper hand.
We have eliminated over 8,000 terrorists and we are eliminating many more on each day of fighting. Step by step, we are wiping out Hamas's capabilities. Hamas will be defeated. Our soldiers will win. The people of Israel will win.
At the same time, we are also active on additional fronts. On the northern border, we are striking harsh blows at Hezbollah. We are eliminating many terrorists and are destroying the enemy's capabilities. We have approved operational plans for the continuation of the fighting. If Hezbollah expands the war – it will absorb blows that it has not dreamed of, and Iran as well. We will take all action until we restore security to the residents of the north.
In Judea and Samaria, we are working around the clock to arrest terrorists, to eliminate terrorists and to thwart many attacks. Since Operation Defensive Shield, there has been no operation in Judea and Samaria of such magnitude. I would like to stand by our settler brothers and sisters, who are steadfast in the face of constant terrorist threats.
Regarding the Houthis – I spoke with many leaders about the need to form an international coalition to safeguard freedom of international navigation in the straits. I welcome the fact that such a coalition has been formed. In any case, we will not allow this threat to harm the citizens of Israel or the Israeli economy.
Regarding Iran: Iran is leading the axis of evil and the aggression against us on the various fronts. This aggression is aimed not only at Israel but at the entire free world. We are acting against Iran all the time, everywhere, and I will not go into details. Today, everyone understands that the threat from Iran will greatly increase if Iran has nuclear weapons. Therefore, the goal that I have been working toward for many years, even now, remains as is: To do absolutely everything to prevent Iran from attaining nuclear weapons.
Citizens of Israel,
We mourn our fallen heroes, our marvelous sons and daughters, those who have given their lives to defend our country and achieve our victory. We wish a quick and complete recovery to our wounded. We are proud of all our soldiers.
In my visit to Gaza this week, I met reservists. They have been fighting the Hamas terrorists for 85 days. They have lost friends, heroes who have fallen in defense of the homeland. They told me: 'We are here to defend not only our borders but also our home.'
When I visited the Sheba Medical Center this week, I spoke at length with the soldier Netanel Tekla, who is recovering from his wounds. Netanel told me about his and his friends' daring battles on October 7th. Netanel's family made aliyah from Ethiopia and dreamed of Zion and here he is defending Zion. With exemplary level-headedness, after he was wounded, Netanel eliminated seven terrorists and saved many lives. We wish him and all of our wounded a complete and quick recovery.
Last week I met with my bereaved brothers and sisters from the families of our heroes who have fallen in battle, including Rafael, the father of Staff Sergeant Shai Arus from Holon, a combat medic in the Givati Brigade who fell in the battles in Gaza. Rafael read me his son's final letter, his moving testament.
Shai wrote: 'I was happy to do what I have wanted to do – save lives and safeguard the country. This is something that I have always wanted to do, something that has always been a part of me since I was a small child. Now I have had the opportunity to do this and give of myself to the country.' And then Shai adds: 'Know that all of this has not been for nothing. The entire people of Israel should continue in this tradition: To love the country, because people have not fallen here for no reason and there are people who need to stand guard over us. I know that this will be difficult,' Shai writes. 'But I want you to continue as you are, to continue with your lives. I have had a happy life.'
To our heroes, those who have fallen in battle, those who have been wounded and those who wield the sword day and night, I salute you. You are the heroes of the people of Israel, of our country. With such spirit to bind us all, we will continue to fight until the end – until victory.
Together we will fight and with G-d's help, together we will win."