After Reported Assassination of Gaza Military Chief, Netanyahu Says ‘Hamas Leaders Are Legitimate Targets’ (VIDEO)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Wednesday night said that Hamas’ leadership were “legitimate targets,” for assassination “…none are immune,” and compared them to Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria.
However, despite the current fighting, Netanyahu, speaking at a press conference held together with Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, said Israel was facing “new diplomatic horizons,” both regionally, and in renewed relations with the Palestinian Authority (PA).
Saying that “Hamas has been given the harshest blow since its creation,” Netanyahu said Israel would use “all means necessary” to achieve the goal of quiet for rocket-battered residents of central and southern Israel.
Both stressed that Israel and the IDF were prepared for a long haul.
“Hamas has been given the harshest blow since its creation,” Netanyahu said, emphasizing a sterner version of a previous “quiet – for – quiet policy,” towards rocket fire.
“They shoot, they’ll get hit – and not just hit, but hit seven times over,” he said.
“Hamas thinks it will wear us out; they are wrong,” Netanyahu said. “We will get their infrastructure and their leaders.”
In remarks echoing the PM, Yaalon said the army would “…continue to pursue and hit Hamas terrorists. We’ve killed hundreds of them & we’ll continue to do so.”
However, Netanyahu evaded a question as to whether or not Israel had succeeded in killing Hamas’ senior military commander, Mohammed Deif, in a massive air strike on a building in Gaza City he was thought to be inside on Tuesday.
Hamas’ military wing spokesman Abu Obadiah said earlier Wednesday that Israel had failed to kill the commander behind its rockets and strategic development.
“Mohammed Deif is safe and was not not hurt in the Israeli strike,” the Izzadin Al-Qassam Brigades said in a statement.
This, despite an “Israeli intelligence source” which told Fox News Wednesday that Deif, was, in fact, killed in the airstrike, along with his wife and daughter.
Netanyahu thanked residents of southern and central Israel for their fortitude in coping with some 3,700 rockets and mortar shells fired towards Israel, now in the 45th day of Operation Protective Edge – 213 in the last 24-hours alone, according to IDF figures.
“The responsibility for your security lays on my shoulders,” Netanyahu said, adding that Israel was “using every tool at our disposal to bring quiet.”
When asked if Israel – US relations were “in deep crisis,” Netanyahu replied, “No, absolutely not,” saying that relations were good and that he’d spoken the same day with US Secretary of State John Kerry.
He did not reveal the contents of the discussion, but said the connection with Washington was “much stronger and sturdier than people think,” and thanked President Barack Obama for support for Israel’s request for more funds for the Iron Dome anti-rocket interceptor system.
Netanyahu said he appreciated Cairo’s role in the rounds of peace talks, and that PA President Mahmoud Abbas would be able to play “a constructive role,” in any new regional alliance.
“He has an opportunity to do so,” he said of Abbas, but added that, “I hope he understands that no one – least of all Israel – can accept the kind of terror that’s been coming from Hamas.”
Netanyahu said he looked forward to “restarting peace negotiations with a Palestinian government committed to peace with Israel.”
Referring to an ISIS video of the beheading of photographer James Foley in Iraq released on Tuesday, Netanyahu said Israel faced “the same barbarity.”
“I want to say this in English. Hamas is ISIS. ISIS is Hamas. [They are] branches of the same tree,” he said.
“I can say that the entire world has been shocked by the atrocities of ISIS,” and, referring to the film clip, went on to say that “It shows you the barbarism, the savagery of these people.”
“What we face is the same savagery,” Netanyahu asserted. “People who wantonly rocket our cities, and want to conduct mass killings. And when they can they murder children, teenagers – shoot them in the head,” referring to the murder of three Israeli teens two months ago.
Hamas “throw people from the sixth floor – their own people; use human shields,” Netanyahu said.
“Hamas in ISIS, ISIS is Hamas,” he reiterated, concluding, “They are the enemies of peace, the enemies of Israel, the enemies of all civilized countries. And I believe they’re the enemies of the Palestinians themselves – and I’m not the only one who believes that.”
Watch a video segment of the press conference: