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Netanyahu Visits Gaza Strip as Israel Now Hunts for West Bank Terror Tunnels

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JERUSALEM, Israel – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited soldiers in the Gaza Strip on Monday. He also presented Israel's conditions for the post-war administration of Gaza in a newspaper op-ed. Meanwhile, in the north, Israel has been pounding targets across the border in Lebanon, and security forces are now concerned about terror tunnels in the West Bank.

In the newspaper column, published in Monday's Wall Street Journal, the prime minister summarized Israel's terms in one sentence: "Hamas must be destroyed, Gaza must be demilitarized, and Palestinian society must be deradicalized."

Netanyahu insisted Israel would continue to "act in full compliance with international law" in destroying Hamas, but said that challenge was complicated because of Hamas's use of civilians as human shields.

He cautioned, "Blaming Israel for these casualties will only encourage Hamas and other terror organizations around the world to use human shields," and said the international community "must place the blame for these casualties squarely on Hamas."

Concerning a demilitarized Gaza, Netanyahu wrote, "Israel must ensure that the territory is never again used as a base to attack it," and explained that would require setting up a temporary security zone on Gaza's perimeter and providing for border inspection mechanisms between Gaza and Egypt.

He also called the expectation voiced by the Biden administration and others that the Palestinian Authority would demilitarize Gaza a "pipe dream," charging, "It currently funds and glorifies terrorism in Judea and Samaria and educates Palestinian children to seek the destruction of Israel."

The prime minister's third condition is that Palestinian society must be deradicalized. He said that goal calls for "courageous and moral leadership," pointing out that "Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas can't even bring himself to condemn the Oct. 7 atrocities." 

Netanyahu suggested the process of deradicalizing the society begins in the schools, and highlighted the success the allies had in transforming societies in post-World War II Germany and Japan.slider img 2

On Israel's northern front, Iran has vowed revenge against Israel for the death of a senior military official in Iran's Revolutionary Guard in Syria. Brig. Gen. Razi Mousavi died Monday in an alleged Israeli air strike. He reportedly directed the Iranian war effort against Israel from inside Syria. Israeli fighter jets struck heavily at Hezbollah military compounds, rocket launchers, and infrastructure in Lebanon since Sunday to retaliate for rockets fired into Israel.

And, near what is called the "seam line" between Israel and Palestinian communities in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank), Israeli regional councils announced the formation of an emergency forum Monday to address fears of residents who say they've heard the sounds of digging underneath their homes, raising concerns about Palestinian terror tunnel activity.

According to a report in The Jerusalem Post, no direct evidence of West Bank tunnels has yet been found. However, a resident of Bet Hefer, east of the coastal city of Netanya, told an Israeli radio station, "The settlement is targeted with direct and indirect fire almost every day. We can show you pictures of shells from our yards." 

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About The Author


John Waage has covered politics and analyzed elections for CBN New since 1980, including primaries, conventions, and general elections. He also analyzes the convulsive politics of the Middle East.