Israel-Hamas war, Gaza airstrikes, truce talks, IDF offensive

Smoke rises from northern Gaza on Saturday. Amir Cohen/Reuters

Israel will continue ground operations in Gaza until all of its goals are achieved, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated in a press conference Saturday.

“We will continue the war until we achieve all our goals, and we can’t achieve these goals without the ground maneuvering,” Netanyahu said. “There are no other ways to achieve these goals but to win, and there is no way to win other than ground maneuvering.” 

Netanyahu said Israel’s goals are freeing hostages, eradicating Hamas and preventing a “regime of terror” in Gaza.

“We must achieve these goals; this is the only thing that is important to me,” he said.

Netanyahu also spoke of the freed hostages, but declined to provide details on the conditions in which they were kept in Gaza. 

“As evidence has been gathered, you realize they experienced hell,” he said.

Pressure from abroad: Earlier Saturday, French President Emmanuel Macron said Israeli authorities need “to more precisely define their goal and the final outcome they’re trying to achieve.”

“What does the total destruction of Hamas mean? Does anyone think it is possible?” Macron said, adding that he thinks the eradication of Hamas would take 10 years of fighting.

The US has also pressured Israel to be more targeted in its renewed offensive in the enclave.

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin emphasized in remarks Saturday that the protection of civilians in Gaza is crucial to Israel’s long-term success against Hamas. Speaking at a defense forum in California, Austin warned Israel to avoid driving civilians “into the arms of the enemy” and to “shun irresponsible rhetoric” while expanding access to humanitarian aid in Gaza.

“It would compound this tragedy if all that awaited Israelis and Palestinians at the end of this awful war was more insecurity, more rage and more despair,” Austin said.

Message for Hezbollah: Netanyahu also reiterated his warning against Hezbollah becoming more involved in the conflict.  

“In the north, we are operating all the time against Hezbollah, eliminating terror squads bringing terrorists further from the border,” Netanyahu said. 

“We are on the offensive and, let me declare, we are committed to bring security both to the north and the south; if Hezbollah makes such mistake and enters the expanded war, it will demolish Lebanon single-handedly,” the prime minister continued. 

CNN’s Haley Britzky contributed reporting to this post.