Israel will not stop its military campaign in Gaza until long-term calm is restored, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday, shunning increasingly vocal world demands for a truce.
“The campaign in Gaza is continuing,” he said at the end of a seven-hour humanitarian lull which saw violence subside in the battered Palestinian enclave.
“This operation will only end when quiet and security is established for the citizens of Israel for a prolonged period,” he said on a visit to the army’s southern command.
The Israeli operation in Gaza began on July 8 with an air campaign and expanded into a ground operation on July 17 with the aim of destroying a network of tunnels used for cross-border attacks.
“What is about to conclude is the IDF (army’s) action to deal with the tunnels,” Netanyahu said, without elaborating.
At the weekend, Netanyahu said troops would finish with the tunnels before moving into a new phase, although officials have not said what it would involve.
The Israeli army confirmed it had begun pulling out some troops from Gaza during the weekend in what was largely understood to be the beginnings of a unilateral withdrawal which would not involve any negotiated agreement with Hamas.