We have to demilitarise, deradicalise Gaza: Netanyahu

by IANS |

Washington/Jerusalem, Nov 17 (IANS) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reiterated that his country was not seeking to occupy Gaza but "our goal is to demilitarise and deradicalise" the Hamas-controlled enclave.

He made the remarks during a CBS News interview on Thursday in which he also insisted that Israel is trying to wipe out Hamas "with minimal civilian casualties".

"We want overall military responsibility to prevent the re-emergence of terror... We're not seeking to occupy. That's not our goal. But our goal is to make sure what happens there is different.

"To do that we have to (do to) demilitarise Gaza and we have to deradicalise Gaza," the Prime Minister added.

He also said that that liberating Palestinians from Hamas will "give them a real future".

Regarding the Israeli military raid at the Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza, Netanyahu said there were "strong indications" that the Hamas were holding the hostages it captured after the October 7 attack inside the facility.

"We had strong indications that they were held in the Shifa Hospital, which is one of the reasons we entered the hospital," he told CBS News.

"If they were (there), they were taken out," the Prime Minister said, adding that his government has "intelligence about the hostages".

According to authorities, 237 people are being captive in Gaza, including Israelis, foreign nationals and children.

So far, four civilian hostages have been released by Hamas, and a female soldier was rescued by Israeli forces.

Israel has maintained that the Hamas of having a command centre underneath the hospital, as well as using the medical complex as a base.

The allegations however, have been repeatedly denied by the militant group.

When asked about a proposed deal to exchange prisoners and how close is Israel to securing the release of the hostages, Netanyahu told CBS News: "We're closer than we were before we began the ground action... (The ground offensive has) put pressure on Hamas to achieve a ceasefire.

"We'll have a temporary ceasefire if we can get our hostages back. I don't think it serves that purpose for me to elaborate further on that."

But he declined to say whether Israel would agree to release Palestinian prisoners in exchange for hostages, saying it was "confidential".

On a two-state solution to end the crisis, the Prime Minister said the Palestinians need a leadership change.

"I say let the Palestinians have all the powers to govern themselves, but none of the powers to threaten Israel... And that means not only making sure that Gaza is demilitarised, but also that Gaza is deradicalised.

"And if you ask me, we need a different civilian leadership than the one that has been offered to the Palestinians today," he told CBS News.

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