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NY Post
New York Post
16 Dec 2023

NextImg:Israel is ‘crying and mourning’ hostages mistakenly killed by IDF, PM Benjamin Netanyahu says

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and two of his high-profile ministers shared their condolences to the families of the three hostages killed by the IDF at a press conference Saturday evening – and expressed their determination to demilitarize the Gaza Strip and bring the area under Israel’s purview.

“The state of Israel is crying and mourning the deaths of our three children,” Netanyahu  said at the presser, referring to the shooting deaths of Yotam Haim, Samer Talalka, and Alon Shamriz in Gaza City on Friday.

“It was a real shock for me,” he added of the news that the three men – who managed to escape Hamas’ clutches – were killed even after they waved a makeshift white flag and may have shouted in Hebrew.

“It has broken my heart, it has broken the entire nation’s heart,” the 74-year-old prime minister lamented.

Netanyahu, however, renewed calls for the public to support the Israel Defense Force’s campaign against Hamas in the Gaza Strip – which started in response to the terror group’s slaughter of about 1,200 people in southern Israel on Oct. 7.

Israel’s prime minister addressed the public Saturday evening. GPO/YouTube
Netanyahu (left) was joined by Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and Knesset member Benny Gantz. GPO/YouTube

“Without the military pressure, we would not have been able to complete the deal that brought the hostages home in that first deal,” he said of the first temporary ceasefire that saw the release of 110 hostages over one week in late November.

“Without this military pressure, we have nothing,” Netanyahu insisted. “We are determined to continue all the way to the very end, until we have eliminated the Hamas terrorists and until we have brought all the hostages home.”

“It’s not politics – this is a policy, this is my policy,” he continued. “That is the desire of the majority of the people” in Israel.

The three hostages were killed by friendly fire on Friday. Avi Lulu/Facebook

Netanyahu slammed Hamas’ charter, which calls for the elimination of Israel, and also vowed not to allow the Palestinian Authority, which governs the West Bank, to control the Gaza Strip in the aftermath of the war.

“I will not let that happen,” he said. “Gaza will be demilitarized under the control of Israel”

“There will be no one who will educate their children to annihilate Israel,” he added.

Netanyahu’s impassioned remarks were followed by Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, who said he bears “responsibility for everything that’s happening [in the war]…for the achievements, yes, but also the prices we are paying.”

“The soldiers didn’t of course intend to do so, but they did kill them with friendly fire,” he said of the three hostages’ death.

Netanyahu also took questions from the press. GPO/YouTube

The Israeli military will now work to educate soldiers in Gaza to avoid similar tragic mistakes, Gallant added.

“The price, the toll of war is so heavy, and we are paying it every single day,” he continued.

“[But we are] fighting for a worthy cause. We have to pay that price, there is no choice [but for] the military eradication of [Hamas’] authority in the Gaza Strip and to bring hostages home.”

Gallant said he had total belief in the “justification” of Israel’s path in Gaza.

“We are fighting the most just battle that we possible can, that any nation can possible by immersed in,” he said, referring to Hamas as an “evil organization … that murdered our children, raped our women, and kidnapped our elderly and murdered them.”

Israeli soldiers prepare munitions near a self-propelled artillery howitzer in southern Israel. AFP via Getty Images

“Hamas only responds to force,” he added.

Both Gallant and Knesset member Benny Gantz – who also spoke at the presser – said the war against Hamas will be “long-winded.”

“This is not the time for long words, but the time for acts,” Gantz insisted.

The three leaders’ statements were followed by a tense question-and-answer session with reporters, in which all three were grilled about Israel’s work against Hezbollah in Lebanon and the potential of a new hostage deal.

Under pressure from several directions, Netanyahu insisted he is “burning the midnight oil” to ensure the country’s safety.