'When this is over there will be a new reality in Gaza': Advisor to Israeli PM says pledging to 'dismantle Hamas'

12 October 2023, 08:50

'There will be a new reality in Gaza when this is over': Advisor to Israeli PM tells LBC

EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

"There will be a new reality in Gaza when this is over," pledges a senior Israeli official ahead of a planned ground offensive in the region.

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Speaking to LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast, Senior Advisor to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Ambassador Mark Regev, said there would be "a new reality in Gaza" when the conflict was over.

He cited the countries Hamas is officially designated a terrorist organisation "in the United States, in Canada, Australia, Japan, The European Union, and in Britain."

He called on "anyone who has any doubts about the nature of this Hamas organisation" to "look at the violence and brutality that they inflicted upon innocent Israeli citizens on Saturday morning."

The Israeli government is under intense public pressure to topple Hamas after attackers stormed through a border fence on Saturday and massacred hundreds of Israelis in their homes, on the streets and at an outdoor music festival.

Recalling the details of the attacks, Mr Regev said: "We saw them butcher young people at an open-air music concert, we saw them massacre entire families, there were instances of massacres where they killed parents in front of their children. We've seen ISIS-type beheadings!"

"If this is not a terrorist organisation, then I don't know what a terrorist organisation is."

Read more: Besieged Gaza runs out of power as Israeli PM says Hamas 'beheaded soldiers and raped our women'

Read more: Israel 'has the right' to withhold power and water from Gaza, says Sir Keir Starmer

Ambassador Mark Regev was speaking to LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast
Ambassador Mark Regev was speaking to LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast. Picture: Alamy

Mr Regev revealed he was speaking to Nick from the Prime Minister's office, he went on to say: "We are going to act, and we will act with force, but we are thinking at the same time."

"We will inflict a decisive defeat of Hamas, we will dismantle the Hamas organisation, Gaza will be different when this is over."

The senior advisor said this was "not another round of fighting," but was "war."

"We didn't want this war, they started it, they started it in a horrific manner, we will fight, we will win, and when this is over there will be a new reality in Gaza."

Israeli strikes demolish Gaza neighbourhoods as power plant runs out of fuel

Palestinians in Gaza spent the night in pitch darkness, surrounded by the ruins of destroyed neighbourhoods, as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to "crush and destroy" Hamas, with the support of a new war cabinet that includes a long-time opposition critic.

"Every Hamas member is a dead man," Mr Netanyahu said in a televised address.

International aid groups warned that deaths in Gaza could accelerate as the territory runs out of supplies amid an Israeli blockade.

The war, which was ignited by a bloody and wide-ranging Hamas attack into Israel, has already claimed at least 2,400 lives on both sides.

Lt Col Richard Hecht, an Israeli military spokesman, told reporters on Thursday that forces "are preparing for a ground manoeuvre if decided", but that the political leadership has not yet ordered one.

A ground offensive in Gaza, the first since the 2014 war, would probably bring even higher casualties on both sides in brutal house-to-house fighting.

The Israeli military said overnight strikes targeted Hamas's elite Nukhba forces, including command centres used by the fighters who attacked Israel on Saturday, and the home of a senior Hamas naval operative that it said was used to store unspecified weapons.

"Right now we are focused on taking out their senior leadership," Lt Col Hecht said. "Not only the military leadership, but also the governmental leadership, all the way up to (top Hamas leader Yehiyeh) Sinwar. They were directly connected."

Israeli airstrikes continue on the sixth day in Gaza
Israeli airstrikes continue on the sixth day in Gaza. Picture: Getty

The Hamas-run Interior Ministry said Israeli strikes demolished two multi-storey houses on top of residents without warning, killing and wounding "a large number" of people, mainly civilians. Hamas has threatened to kill Israeli hostages if Israel strikes Palestinian civilians without warning.

Israel has halted the entry of food, water, fuel and medicine into the territory. On Tuesday, Gaza's only power station ran out of fuel and shut down, leaving only lights powered by scattered private generators. Those will shut off as well if fuel is not allowed in.

A senior official with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) warned that lack of electricity could cripple hospitals, as he called for Hamas to release hostages.

"As Gaza loses power, hospitals lose power, putting newborns in incubators and elderly patients on oxygen at risk. Kidney dialysis stops, and X-rays can't be taken," said Fabrizio Carboni, the ICRC's regional director. "Without electricity, hospitals risk turning into morgues."

In Israel, opposition leader Benny Gantz, a former defence minister and political opponent of Mr Netanyahu, joined a new wartime cabinet at a time when the Israeli military appears increasingly likely to launch a ground offensive into Gaza.

Israel has mobilised 360,000 reservists, massed additional forces near Gaza and evacuated tens of thousands of residents from nearby communities.

Mr Netanyahu alleged that the attackers engaged in atrocities, including binding boys and girls and shooting them in the head, burning people alive, raping women and beheading soldiers.

The prime minister's allegations could not be independently confirmed, and authorities did not immediately offer further details. Rescue workers and witnesses have described horrifying scenes, including the slaughter of elderly people and finding bloody rooms crowded with massacred civilians.

Militants in Gaza are holding an estimated 150 people taken hostage from Israel - soldiers, men, women, children and older adults - and they have fired thousands of rockets into Israel over the past five days.

Israel's increasingly destructive air strikes in Gaza have flattened entire city blocks and left unknown numbers of bodies beneath debris.

A ground offensive in Gaza, whose 2.3 million residents are densely packed into a strip of land only 25 miles long, would likely result in a surge of casualties on both sides.

The UN said late Wednesday the number of people displaced by the air strikes had soared 30% within 24 hours, to 339,000, two thirds of them crowding into UN schools. Others sought shelter in the shrinking number of safe neighbourhoods.

The Egyptian government rejected an American proposal to allow Palestinians fleeing Israel's bombardment to leave Gaza, a senior Egyptian official said Thursday.

Egypt believes that Palestinians leaving Gaza would harm the Palestinian cause, and its state-run media reported that the Israeli offensive is part of a scheme to empty the enclave.

A displaced Palestinian following intensive Israeli raids in the al-Karama district in northwest Gaza.
A displaced Palestinian following intensive Israeli raids in the al-Karama district in northwest Gaza. Picture: Alamy
An Israeli mobile artillery unit fired a shell from southern Israel towards the Gaza Strip, in a position a near the Israel Gaza border
An Israeli mobile artillery unit fired a shell from southern Israel towards the Gaza Strip, in a position a near the Israel Gaza border. Picture: Alamy

Convoys stood loaded with fuel and food on Wednesday on the Egyptian side of the Rafah crossing, but were unable to enter Gaza, the official said. The only crossing point between Egypt and Gaza was shut down on Tuesday following nearby Israeli air strikes.

The official said Egypt was talking with Israel and the US on establishing safe corridors inside Gaza and delivering humanitarian aid to the besieged Palestinians, and with Israel and other foreign governments to evacuate foreigners through the Rafah crossing point.

The risk of the war spreading was evident on Wednesday after the Iranian-backed Lebanese militant group Hezbollah fired anti-tank missiles at an Israeli military position and claimed to have killed and wounded troops.

The Israeli military confirmed the attack but did not comment on possible casualties. The Israeli army shelled the area in southern Lebanon where the attack was launched.

The death toll in Gaza rose to 1,200 early Thursday, the Palestinian health ministry said.

The Gaza Strip's biggest hospital, Al-Shifa, has only enough fuel to keep power on for three days, said Matthias Kannes, a Gaza-based official for Doctors Without Borders. The group said the two hospitals it runs in Gaza were running out of surgical equipment, antibiotics, fuel and other supplies.

Meanwhile, the Israeli military said more than 1,200 people, including 189 soldiers, have been killed in Israel, a staggering toll unseen since the 1973 war with Egypt and Syria that lasted weeks.

Israel says roughly 1,500 Hamas militants were killed inside Israel, and that hundreds of the dead inside Gaza are Hamas members.