Netanyahu: Reoccupation of Gaza ‘the last option, not the first’
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Netanyahu: Reoccupation of Gaza ‘the last option, not the first’

Embattled Israeli PM says drastic action in Palestinian coastal territory is 'still on the table' but is the final choice open to him

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu/ Photo by: Nimrod Glikman -  JINIPIX
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu/ Photo by: Nimrod Glikman - JINIPIX

Israel has not ruled out reoccupying the Gaza Strip, Benjamin Netanyahu has said.

In comments made just days before Israel’s general election, in which the embattled prime minister is pressing his security credentials, he told KAN News that “all options are still on the table,” but reoccupation was “the last option, not the first”.

In the past 100 years, the 25-mile strip has been occupied by the Ottomans, British, Egyptians and Israelis, the IDF capturing the territory in the Six Day War in 1967.

Jewish settlements such as Gush Katif were established and the Strip remained under Israeli military administration until 1994, when the Palestinian Authority took over. However Islamists attracted to Hamas ousted the secular Fatah leadership in early 2007, less than two years after Israel’s disengagement in 2005.

In an interview on Thursday morning, Netanyahu said: “All the options are still on the table, including entering Gaza and occupying it, out of consideration of what is best for Israel. But that is the last option and not the first.”

Israeli leaders do not want to rule over two million Palestinians but their current strategy has failed to dislodge Hamas or stop the rockets, while fears of a humanitarian crisis appear increasingly well-founded.

Netanyahu told KAN News that he had “hoped that we would find someone who would take it [control of Gaza]… I have spoken with many Arab leaders about this possibility that we would do this… No-one wanted to do this.”

Past surveys have shown that British Jews think Israel should negotiate with Hamas in order to secure a binding long-term peace, but Netanyahu rejected this, saying: “You can’t enter into a diplomatic agreement with someone who wants to kill you.”

He added that he had only approved military action when necessary, saying: “I am not engaging in needless wars. I want to use the force that is necessary and I am willing to pay the price, but only when it is necessary.”

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