Following the abhorrent Hamas attack, President Isaac Herzog this morning (Thursday), held at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem, an on-record briefing for journalists from around the world. The briefing was also broadcast live.

In his remarks, the President said: “The world has seen the worst atrocity in quite some time. Hamas has carried out war crimes, crimes against humanity. It has chosen to conduct its war against Israel, hiding - as always - within populated areas, using the population as a shield, using mosques, shops, houses, anything of civilian lives, as their centre of activity. And that is why we're operating to uproot this infrastructure.”

He noted, “We are not retaliating - we are targeting the enemy in order to uproot their capability to carry on with this campaign of destroying Israel.”

He emphasized, “We are very cautious in the way we operate. The IDF uses all the means at its disposal in order to reduce harm to the population. For example, many resources are invested in gathering intelligence to locate the enemy separately from civilian population, in evacuating the civilian population from the centre of the battle, warning citizens, and monitoring humanitarian situation. But Israel will defend its people and do whatever it takes with an iron fist to change the reality.”

The President said, “I want to thank President Joe Biden wholeheartedly, and the American Administration and Congress for the unanimous support for the State of Israel and the people of Israel. America is a great friend, President Biden is a great friend, standing with us in our hour of need.”

The President told the journalists, “Over the last few days, I've spoken with numerous world leaders who have expressed their dismay, their disgust, their outrage at the tragic attack and its consequences. I believe it's now time also to hear religious leaders all over the world condemn this horrific attack. And I also believe that the press around the world needs to look at the reality. They must declare and call Hamas a terrorist organisation - without ifs and buts, without explanation.”

He added, “If families in Toronto, were massacred in the same way, I'm sure the press would call it a massacre by terrorists. These are not freedom fighters. These are terrorists, the worst enemies of humanity that one can imagine. I call upon the international community, unequivocally make clear and loud condemnation of Hamas, just as you condemned ISIS - they are one and the same. Make clear that Hamas carries full responsibility and accountability for the well-being of the hostages and demand their immediate release - with no conditions at all. Support Israel in words and in deeds - designate Hamas in its entirety as a terrorist body.”

“Finally, I want to say that the people of Israel have always shown the capability of getting up from the darkest hour and rising as lions and fighting back and showing incredible spirit of unity and friendship and solidarity. I see it all over the nation.”