'This is a time for war': Israeli PM rejects calls for ceasefire in Gaza as it would be 'surrender to Hamas terrorism'

31 October 2023, 00:32 | Updated: 31 October 2023, 00:37

'This is a time for war', Israel's PM has said
'This is a time for war', Israel's PM has said. Picture: Getty
Kieran Kelly

By Kieran Kelly

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu emphatically rejected pleas for a ceasefire last night, stressing that "now is a time for war".

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Speaking after an Israeli soldier was rescued by special operatives operating inside Gaza, Mr Netanyahu rejected calls for a ceasefire as he urged the world not to "surrender to tyranny and terror".

It comes amid growing international pressure for Israel to call a ceasefire as the humanitarian crisis inside Gaza worsens.

Key Israeli allies, including the United States and the United Kingdom, have rejected calls for a ceasefire, though both the Conservatives and the Labour party have backed more temporary 'humanitarian pauses'.

Defending his country's right to go after Hamas, Mr Netanyahu said: "Israel did not start this war. Israel did not want this war. But Israel will win this war."

He accused Hamas of raping women and beheading men during its terrorist attack on Israel on October 7.

"Israel is fighting the enemies of civilisation itself," he added.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu once again vowed to destroy Hamas
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu once again vowed to destroy Hamas. Picture: Getty

Mr Netanyahu's comments came after an Israeli solider was rescued by special forces, who spent weeks in captivity with Hamas.

Uri Magidish was freed by Israeli soldiers during a ground operation in Gaza after being captured by Hamas on October 7, Israel's Defence Force (IDF) said.

"The soldier was medically examined, her condition is good and she met with her family," a spokesperson said.

"The IDF and Shin Bet will continue to make every effort to bring about the release of the abductees."

The circumstances surrounding the young soldier's release are unclear at this stage.

"Welcome home, Uri," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a post online.

He added that the freeing of Ms Magidish demonstrates that Israel is 'committed to releasing all hostages' being held by Hamas.

Uri Magidish (centre) was freed by the IDF
Uri Magidish (centre) was freed by the IDF. Picture: Israel Security Agency

As Israel's ground operation intensifies, a number of nations, politicians and diplomats across the world have called for a ceasefire in Gaza , where thousands of people have been killed in retaliatory strikes.

Israel launched a bombardment campaign after Hamas' terrorist attacks on October 7, which killed 1,400 people and led to 239 people being kidnapped.

It emerged on Monday that a German-Israeli woman kidnapped from the Supernova music festival was beheaded by Hamas fighters.

Shani Louk was taken from the festival after they stormed the site on 7 October in their terror attack which killed hundreds of people at the site alone.

Meanwhile, more than 8,000 people have been killed in Gaza since Israel's bombardment campaign was launched, a figure provided by the Hamas-run health ministry in the besieged region.

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It came during another day of Israel's intensifying ground operation in Gaza, described by Netanyahu and his war officials as the "second stage" of the war against Hamas.

Over the weekend, direct clashes broke out between Israel and Hamas for the first time in the conflict, with the IDF confirming it has taken out a number of terrorists on Sunday.

Israeli attacks on Gaza continue on the 24th day
Israeli attacks on Gaza continue on the 24th day. Picture: Getty

Israel has continued its retaliatory bombardment campaign against Hamas in Gaza, with residents reporting air stikes in Gaza city.

There have also been reported sightings of tanks rolling into Gaza.