Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told NPR on Friday that Israel is committed to doing three things in Gaza: Destroying Hamas, freeing the Israeli hostages and giving Gaza a different future.
Netanyahu stressed in the interview that Israel must maintain "overall military responsibility" in Gaza "for the foreseeable future."
"Once we defeat Hamas, we have to make sure that there's no new Hamas, no resurgence of terrorism, and right now the only force that is able to secure that is Israel," Netanyahu explained.
He added "there has to be a civilian government there," but declined to say who he thought it would be.
"I think I know who it can't be — it can't be people committed to funding terrorism and inculcating terrorism," Netanyahu stated.
The Prime Minister compared the situation in Gaza to the Allies' occupation of Germany and Japan after World War II, after their surrender, for administrative and rehabilitative purposes.
He called for a similar "cultural change" in Gaza to those that took place in Germany and Japan when those countries transitioned from authoritarian rule to democracies after surrendering to the Allies. He added that any government in Gaza should be committed to fighting terrorism, not funding it.
Commenting on the IDF’s operation at Shifa Hospital in Gaza, Netanyahu said troops found weapons, ammunition, bombs and a "major" command center in the hospital, which he said Israel has now taken over. He added that as troops moved in, they brought Arabic-speaking doctors and incubators with them.
"This is, I think, the most humane takeover of a hospital commandeered by terrorists in history," he told NPR.
Netanyahu said Hamas must be replaced with a government that wants to rebuild Gaza and cares for the future of peace between Israelis and Palestinian Arabs.
When asked how he expects to make peace with people who have lost their loved ones — in some cases their entire families — to Israel's military campaign in Gaza, Netanyahu said "any civilian death, and any death of any child, is a tragedy."
He stressed Israel is doing "everything we can" to minimize such deaths, and said Hamas does the opposite.
"Hamas is committing a double war crime," Netanyahu said. "It's both targeting our civilians, murdering them, mutilating them, but also hiding behind civilians as human shields."
Ask about voters who have said they were disappointed in his leadership after the October 7 attacks, Netanyahu said that after the "savagery" of the attack, his constituents' feelings were "understandable." At the same time, he insisted his country is "united today as never before."
(Israel National News' North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Israel National News articles, however, is Israeli time.)