Netanyahu to Hamas: 'We Will Fight You and Defeat You'
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu reiterated Israel's right to self-defense Wednesday, in a meeting with Italian Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini.
"Those who shoot at us are not looking for a political solution, they want the destruction and disappearance of Israel," Netanyahu stated Wednesday afternoon. "We have only one answer for them: we will fight you and defeat you."
"Israel must take immediate action to defend itself, as any normal country would do against terrorists who commit war crimes," he added.
"They killed an Israeli citizen yesterday, but they’re targeting millions of our citizens, directly targeting them with rocket fire which is a war crime, and also using their own civilians as human shields – another war crime," he continued. We’ve been trying to find a solution to this problem."
Netanyahu then spoke publicly about Israel's acceptance of an Egyptian cease-fire proposal Tuesday morning.
"Yesterday, I accepted the Egyptian ceasefire proposal," he said. "This was a proposal that was endorsed by the UN Secretary General and by the Arab League."
"Israel accepted the ceasefire, Hamas rejected it," he continued. "We held our fire for six hours, and during that time Hamas continued to barrage our cities with rockets."
"Hamas thus shut the door to a diplomatic solution and it therefore bears the sole responsibility for the continuation of the violence," he fired. "It’s responsible for the civilian deaths, the innocent deaths of Palestinians that it uses as human shields, and it’s responsible for the deaths of Israeli civilians and the terror rocketing of Israeli civilians."
Netanyahu then directed a few comments to the international community, some of whom have sided with Hamas - despite its firing more than 1,200 rockets on major Israeli population centers.
"I believe that all members of the international community should unequivocally condemn Hamas for these crimes," he said. "I believe that all members of the international community should unequivocally support Israel’s right to defend itself. None of the countries that I know would adopt a different position, and therefore I appreciate the support of many world leaders, including you, for Israel’s right to defend itself. And Israel will continue to do so until peace and quiet are restored. This is our right; this is our duty; we will act by it."
Netanyahu's remarks surface as ministers weigh the possibility of a ground offensive in Gaza.
Hamas and Islamic Jihad fired more than 100 rockets on Israeli civilians on Tuesday, despite Israel's agreement to adhere to an Egyptian-brokered truce deal early Tuesday morning.
Hamas categorically rejected the cease-fire in multiple statements, insisting that the terms of the agreement 'did not apply' to them; later, Hamas officials reportedly set a series of unprecedented demands on Israel to accompany a ten-year truce - before threatening Israelis if the government refused to accept.