Despite Biden’s call to scale back fighting, Netanyahu says Israel ‘intensifying’ war in Gaza

War against Hamas will ‘take time,’ says Israeli prime minister, rejecting calls to scale back operation in Gaza.

By David Rosenberg, World Israel News

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appeared to push back Sunday evening on calls by President Joe Biden for Israel to either wrap up or scale back the IDF’s ground operation in the Gaza Strip.

In a video statement Sunday evening, Netanyahu said Israel is “intensifying” its war against the Hamas terror organization, reiterating his vow to “eliminate” Hamas.

“Citizens of Israel, we are intensifying the war in the Gaza Strip. We will continue to fight until absolute victory over Hamas.”

“This is the only way to return our hostages, eliminate Hamas and ensure that Gaza will no longer be a threat to Israel.”

Netanyahu emphasized that the operation will not be completed in the near future.

“This will take time, but we are united – the soldiers, the people and the Government. We are united and determined to fight until the end.”

“The war has a price, a very heavy price in the lives of our heroic soldiers, and we will do everything to safeguard the lives of our soldiers. However, there is one thing we will not do: We will not stop until we achieve victory.”

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Later, in a Christmas message released by the Prime Minister’s Office, Netanyahu castigated Gaza t errorists as “monsters” and “barbarians,” while thanking Christian supporters of Israel for their solidarity with the Jewish state.

“Christmas is supposed to be a time of good will to all men and peace on Earth. Well, we don’t have peace on Earth, not in our part anyway, and we certainly don’t see good will to all men.”

“We’re facing monsters, monsters who murdered children in front of their parents and parents in front of their children, who raped and beheaded women, who burned babies alive, who took babies hostages.”

“This is a battle, not only of Israel against these barbarians, it’s a battle of civilization against barbarism. And I know in this that we have your support.”

The statements come a day after Netanyahu spoke with Biden over the phone about the future of the Gaza war.

During the 45-minute conversation, Biden urged Netanyahu to downgrade Israel’s operations in the coastal enclave, while refraining from demanding a truce.

“I didn’t ask for a ceasefire,” Biden later said of his conversation with Netanyahu.

A White House statement noted that the two leaders “discussed Israel’s military campaign in Gaza to include its objectives and phasing.”

In recent days, a number of Biden administration officials, including Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, have urged Israeli leaders to lower the IDF’s profile in Gaza, calling the drawdown a “phasing” of the conflict towards a more limited operation, focusing narrowly on the targeted killings of senior Hamas terrorists.

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Last week, Secretary of State Antony Blinken

emphasized the urgency of ending the war “as quickly as possible,” advocating a shift to more targeted operations.

“It’s clear that this conflict needs to move — will move — to a lower intensity phase,” Blinken said. “We expect to see, and want to see, a shift to more targeted operations, with a smaller number of forces that are really focused on dealing with the leadership of Hamas, the tunnel network and a few other different things.”

“As that happens, you’ll see the harm done to civilians decrease significantly,” he said.