Netanyahu tells Bret Baier cease-fire ‘means surrender,’ insists squad member is calling for ‘genocide’
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in an exclusive interview with Fox News Chief Political Anchor Bret Baier insisted a cease-fire is not an option even though operations in Gaza have taken 'longer' than planned.
'One thing we haven't agreed to is a cease-fire,' Netanyahu said during the interview that aired Thursday on 'Special Report with Bret Baier.'
'A cease-fire with Hamas means surrender to Hamas, surrender to terror and the victory of the Iran's axis of terror, so there won't be a cease-fire without the release of Israeli hostages,' he insisted.
Calls for a ceasefire have continued to plague both American and Israeli officials as the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) presses on with its efforts to wipe out Hamas and ensure the terrorist group can no longer operate within the Gaza Strip.
The Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry reported that over 10,000 people have died, with multiples more injured due to IDF bombings that aim to kill Hamas officers and bases of operation, including the extensive tunnel network that exists throughout Gaza City.
Critics, including President Biden, have cast doubt on the numbers reported by the ministry, with some reports noting that the ministry does not distinguish between civilians and combatants in its counts, and Netanyahu this week claimed the IDF has killed 'thousands' of terrorists.
'[The army] is fighting the terrorists both above ground and below ground,' Netanyahu told Baier. 'We’re doing everything in our power to reduce civilian casualties: We’ve managed safe zones and safe corridors so civilians can hear our call to leave, even though Hamas is trying to keep them in.'
He claimed that 50,000 people departed Gaza City, in the northern part of the strip, to the southern safe zone two days ago, and another 70,000 on the day of the interview. Meanwhile, Hamas militants have tried to keep civilians in the north – an act that Netanhayu described to Baier and a Palestinian activist previously discussed with Fox News Digital.
'Not only do they murder and mutilate, rape and murder women burn children alive, take hostages of toddlers, babies, elderly, Holocaust survivors, the worst savagery perpetrated on the Jewish people since the Holocaust … Not only do they do that, but they actually target their own civilians,' Netanyahu lamented. 'That is, they want to keep their civilians as a human shield.'
Netanyahu admitted that the operations have not progressed at the pace he had initially anticipated, but he credited the support from the U.S. Congress and Biden as 'very, very important' to the overall success of the IDF operations.
'It's taking a little longer than I had hoped,' Netanyahu said. 'I hope we could do it very fast, but we have battled conditions on the ground, the safety of our own forces, the hostages. We want to get out and the humanitarian corridors.'
'So it's taken a little while, but … I very much appreciate the support that President Biden has shown, the administration has shown, and frankly, the American people have shown and in the Congress have shown on both sides of the aisle,' he added.
However, support has not remained unanimous across the U.S., and Netanyahu commented on the censure of Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., following her comments related to the explosion at the al-Ahli Arab Hospital and her refusal to apologize for using the 'From the River to the Sea' chant, which many have insisted is a call to wipe Israel off the map.
The censure effort succeeded thanks to support from 22 Democrat representatives who agreed that her language required an official reprimand – a stance that Netanyahu supported.
'What this congresswoman is calling for is Palestine and genocide, the elimination of the Jewish state, the one and only Jewish state of the Jewish people,' Netanyahu said. 'That's absurd, and I salute the Congress for censoring [sic] her.'
He acknowledged that the protests across the U.S. and some parts of the world, in which demonstrators repeat the chant among others – including a disturbing incident in Australia in which the crowds chanted 'Gas the Jews' – may include 'naïve people,' but he maintained that 'there are a lot of people who know exactly what they’re saying.'
The protesters have aligned themselves with Hamas, according to Netanyahu. During his speech alongside German Chancellor Olaf Schulz last month, Netanyahu called Hamas 'the new Nazis.'
'This is what they’re aligning themselves with,' Netanyahu told Baier. 'We have to protect not only our lives, but our future.'
Netanyahu insisted that the future does not include an extended stay in the Gaza Strip once the IDF cripples and eliminates Hamas, saying that Israel does not 'seek to govern Gaza.'
'We don’t seek to occupy, but we seek to give it and us a better future in the entire Middle East,' he argued. 'That requires defeating Hamas. I’ve set goals. I didn’t set a timetable because it can take more time.'
'I wish it’ll take a little time, but we’re proceeding step by step, reducing our casualties in the process, trying to reduce and minimize civilian casualties and maximize the casualties of the Hamas terrorists, and so far I think it’s proceeding well.'
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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