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War between light and darkness: Netanyahu tells Knesset, warns Iran and Hezbollah in Gaza

Netanyahu remarked that Israel's war for independence had not ended, referring to the recent strikes by Hamas that killed hundreds of Israelis. Opposition leader Yair Lapid said that Israel will continue the war against Hamas regardless of international criticism.

Aveek Banerjee Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Jerusalem Updated on: October 16, 2023 22:52 IST
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Image Source : AP Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

As the Israel-Hamas war rages on, a session of the Knesset, the Israeli Parliament, was addressed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu where he equating the ongoing conflict as a fight "against forces of darkness", reported The Times of Israel.

In his remarks, Netanyahu said, "Even with the passage of 75 years, the war of independence hasn’t ended... We will win, because our existence here is at stake." He also liken Hamas to Nazis and said the current was between “forces of light and forces of darkness, between humanity and animalism.”

The Israeli PM also reaffirmed that the top-most priority is to defeat Hamas and topple its rule over the Gaza Strip. He also said that Israel has started learning from its mistakes on October 7, when Hamas launched a brutal attack by firing thousands of rockets and infiltrating the country, gunning down hundreds of civilians and soldiers.

He also warned Iran and the Lebanon-based Hezbollah group against intervening in Israel's possible operations against Hamas in Gaza. "Don’t try us, you will be severely harmed. Do not repeat your previous mistake because the price you will pay will be much worse," he said in the Knesset.

Meanwhile, opposition leader Yair Lapid said that Israel will proceed in its campaign against Hamas even if the country is subject to international criticism. "It was not the children of the world who were murdered, our children were murdered," he said.

Rocket barrage disrupts Knesset session

A major rocket barrage was reported from Gaza towards Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, as authorities sounded warning sirens. Hamas took responsibility for launching long-range rockets at Israel's largest cities. There are no immediate reports of any damage.

The winter session of the Knesset was disrupted as a result of the rocket barrage, as lawmakers and attendants were forced to seek refuge in bomb shelters. The session resumed after a 40-minute break.

Iran warns Israel

Iran, which reportedly backs Hamas, has recently threatened an "expansion of war fronts" if Israel continues its war against Gaza. Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian, in an interview with media, said Iran "cannot stand idly by and watch" as the war escalates to a looming ground invasion by Israel.

Earlier, Amirabdollahian met Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh on Saturday night in Qatar and agreed to cooperate to "fully achieving" the goals of Hamas and the Palestinian people. 

He had also warned Israel of 'a huge earthquake', saying that the ongoing war with Hamas will expand to other countries in the Middle East if Hezbollah decides to get involved. "I know about the scenarios that Hezbollah has put in place. Any step the resistance (Hezbollah) will take will cause a huge earthquake in the Zionist entity," said the Iranian Foreign Minister.

Hezbollah fighters have been on full alert along Lebanon's borders with Israel following last Saturday's attack by the militant Palestinian group Hamas that left hundreds of Israeli civilians and soldiers dead. It has praised the Hamas attack, saying that the militants had "divine backing".

Iran's Supreme leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei claimed that Israel's "Zionist regime" has "suffered an irrevocable defeat both in terms of military and intelligence," Iranian News Agency Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) reported. He denied Iran's involvement in the Hamas attacks on Israel.

Situation in Gaza

More than a week since Hamas launched an unprecedented attack by firing a barrage of rockets and infiltrating Israel, more than 4,100 people have died on both sides of the Gaza border. The Gaza Health Ministry said 2,750 Palestinians have been killed and 9,700 wounded since the fighting erupted, while over 1,400 Israelis have been killed in Hamas strikes that struck the Jewish state on October 7.

Israeli airstrikes have pulverized entire neighborhoods as Palestinian militants continue to fire rockets into Israel. The Israeli military also directed 1.1 million Palestinians to evacuate to the south to escape a campaign against Hamas militants in Gaza. The United States and Israel have established an agreement with Egypt to allow civilians to flee Gaza through the Rafah border opening, but no progress in efforts has been made so far.

Meanwhile, US President Joe Biden is considering a trip to Israel in the coming days after an invitation from Netanyahu. However, he added the trip is yet to be finalised. If the President travels, it would be a powerful symbol of sympathy and support following the brutal attack by Hamas. A trip would be a chance for Biden to personally affirm to the Israeli people the US is standing firm behind them.

Biden also made his strongest public statements yet to restrain Israel after the October 7 attack that killed more than 1,400 people including at least 30 US citizens, warning in an interview with CBS' 60 Minutes that aired on Sunday that Israel should not reoccupy Gaza.

“I think it'd be a big mistake,” Biden said. “Look, what happened in Gaza, in my view, is Hamas, and the extreme elements of Hamas don't represent all the Palestinian people. And I think that it would be a mistake for Israel to occupy Gaza again.” Israel left Gaza in 2005; Hamas won the elections the next year. Still, Biden said, “taking out the extremists...is a necessary requirement”.

(with agency inputs)

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