Minister Benny Gantz
Minister Benny GantzSpokesperson

National Unity Party Chairman Minister Benny Gantz addressed the media on Wednesday in Sderot after a visit to the city and a party meeting in Kibbutz Yad Mordechai.

"We are ending a meeting of the National Unity Party in Yad Mordechai and Sderot. We held a discussion to support this area which was always a symbol of our might, and will continue to be," Gantz stated. "We heard disturbing things from the mayor about the funding of the 'Tkuma' (reconstruction) Authority and we will take care of it. The frontier regions, the western Negev among them, must be the top priority in the coming decade. Our mission is to change the security reality and grow the population by at least 10% in the next decade."

He further stated that "the war with Hamas will take time. Youth in middle school will one day fight in the Gaza Strip, as in Judea and Samaria, and against Lebanon. But the truth must be clear, and the head must be high for our achievements: military-wise - Hamas is defeated. Its fighters are eliminated or in hiding. Its abilities are cut off, and we will continue to hit whatever's left. Victory will come, step by step. We are on our way to it and we won't stop.

"We will go into Rafah, we will return to Khan Yunis, and we will operate in Gaza. Anywhere where there will be terror targets, the IDF will be there. Our freedom of operation in Gaza will remain, be preserved, and be used. The military achievement must be completed with a civilian one: the return of civilians to their homes and the flourishing of the communities. Those two achievements must be completed with a diplomatic achievement: the replacement of Hamas in the Gaza Strip and the strengthening of Israel's regional stability in the Middle East."

Gantz added: "We must remember, we are in a battle of national determination, and we will be more determined than our enemies. Since we are in a long war we must look at the war broadly. The urgent need, morally and nationally, is to bring back our hostages. Our negotiations team is making great efforts. Along with military pressure, there is top importance for diplomatic pressure.

"I spoke about that with senior officials in the US and the region - now is the time to apply all levers against Hamas. The leaders of Hamas need to know that along with the military price, the world and the countries in the region will take a heavy toll if they strike down the deal that is on the table."

The minister added: "Along with the efforts in the south, the most urgent operational task at the moment is to return the residents of the north to their homes, and we will return them. Whatever the price may be, we will uphold the pact between the state and its citizens. Iran and its proxies operate from Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen. Iran, which funds Hamas and the Islamic Jihad, is responsible for the terror that harms our cities and citizens every day. To face it, we must build an American-led regional alliance.

We did this when we built a regional architecture that serves us right now in the Red Sea and the entire area. We must expand it through normalization deals with Saudi Arabia and other nations in a way that will lead to a strategic revolution in the area. Amid the Iranian threat, the citizens of Israel must know that the State of Israel's abilities supersede those of the Middle Eastern countries - in defense and offense. Our enemies know this reality well, and understand what it means. We will know how to use our abilities anywhere, against any threat." Gantz declared.