Israel is preparing a land invasion of the Gaza Strip, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed in a televised speech. At the beginning of the conference, US President Joe Biden stated that although Israel has an obligation “to respond to the slaughter of its citizens” and although Hamas uses civilians as “human shields”, this does not reduce Israel’s obligation to care for the fate of civilians. French President Emmanuel Macron also spoke out against the “massive” land operation.
Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu said that the decision on when Israeli forces will enter the Palestinian exclave, controlled by the Islamist movement Hamas, will be made by the government’s special war cabinet. “We have already killed thousands of terrorists, and this is just the beginning,” Netanyahu warned.
– At the same time, we are preparing for a land invasion. I won’t say when, how or how much. I will not go into details of the various calculations we carry out, which the public opinion is mostly unaware of and that is how it should be, he emphasized.
The Israeli prime minister also admitted that he, too, was responsible for the security “failures” that allowed Hamas to attack Israel October 7.
– We will investigate in detail what happened until the end, the failures will be investigated and everyone will be held accountable, including me. But all this will happen after the war, Netanyahu said.
US tries to delay Israeli ground operation
Earlier Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal reported that Israel had agreed to postpone its ground operation in the Gaza Strip at the request of USAto give U.S. forces time to bring air defense systems to the region.
The fact that the US administration was trying to delay the Israeli ground operation was previously reported by other media, including the New York Times. According to Axios, there are several reasons for this US approach.
Apart from humanitarian issues and American preparations in the event of an expansion and intensification of the conflict, it is also about enabling approximately 500 US citizens to leave the Gaza Strip.
Biden: Israel must do everything to protect civilians in the Gaza Strip
At the beginning of the press conference in the White House on Wednesday afternoon, the US president commented on the situation in the Middle East Joe Biden stated that although Israel has an obligation “to respond to the slaughter of its citizens” and although Hamas uses civilians as “human shields”, this does not reduce Israel’s obligation to care for the fate of civilians. “Israel must do everything in its power, no matter how difficult it is, to protect innocent civilians,” Biden said.
He also stated that it is necessary to increase the flow of aid to the inhabitants of the Gaza Strip, and that after the end of the current crisis, a vision of lasting peace based on two states will be necessary.
– There is no return to the status quo of October 6. This means ensuring that Hamas can no longer terrorize Israel and use Palestinian civilians as human shields. It also means a concentrated effort by all parties: Israelis, Palestinians, regional partners, global leaders, to put us on the path to peace, he said.
Biden condemned attacks by “extremist” Israeli settlers on Palestinians in the West Bank, accusing them of “adding fuel to the fire” of the conflict. – They attack Palestinians in places where they have the right to be. This has to end. They must be held to account, said the US president.
Macron: A massive Israeli land operation in the Gaza Strip would be a mistake
– Intervention on land, if it aims to eliminate fully identified terrorist groups, has a definition in international law – said the French president Emmanuel Macronemphasizing that Israel has the right to defend itself.
– However, if it was a massive intervention that would endanger the lives of the civilian population, then I think it would be a mistake (…) also for Israel, because it is unlikely to protect Israel in the long term and because it is incompatible with respect for the population civil law, international humanitarian law and even the rules of war, the French leader said before departing Cairo, where he met Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
Earlier on Wednesday, Macron said that the idea of two states – Israel and Palestine – “has not gotten old.”
Main photo source: PAP/EPA/MARTIN DIVISEK