Israel’s ambassador to the US declined to give a timetable for a ground invasion of the Gaza Strip, saying only that his country does not seek to reoccupy the territory in the wake of the deadly assault by Hamas.
(Bloomberg) — Israel’s ambassador to the US declined to give a timetable for a ground invasion of the Gaza Strip, saying only that his country does not seek to reoccupy the territory in the wake of the deadly assault by Hamas.
“I’m not going to put a timetable on the ground operation,” Michael Herzog said on Bloomberg Television’s “Balance of Power” Monday evening. “We are preparing it, everybody knows that it’s in the works. And when it comes, it comes.”
“This is a war that we have to fight,” he added. “It was imposed on us. And there’s no other option for Israel strategically other than defeating Hamas, because if we don’t, then we invite further aggressions, more severe aggression against the State of Israel, by Hamas, and by Hamas’ allies and by their patrons in Tehran.”
He said a potential visit by President Joe Biden has not been finalized, but that it would send “a very strong message of support to Israel. And a deterrent message to Israel’s enemies.”
Earlier Monday, Israeli Defense Secretary Yoav Gallant told US Secretary of State Antony Blinken that Israeli forces were preparing for a long and costly war but that Israel would win.
Herzog, in the Bloomberg Television interview, said Israel did not want to occupy the strip.
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“Is not our intention to reoccupy Gaza and rule over the lives of 2 million Palestinians, that definitely is not the option,” he said. “But given the fact that we are at war, we cannot conduct the war only through airstrikes. And as everybody knows, we are preparing also a ground operation. A ground operation doesn’t necessarily mean that we are going to occupy Gaza and stay there for years. That is not the intention.”
Herzog said that the issue of hostages was “very high on our agenda” but that Israel would hold Hamas accountable for any harm that comes to the people who have been kidnapped.
–With assistance from Annmarie Hordern and Joe Mathieu.
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