Netanyahu vows to ‘stick to the goals of the war’

The Israeli Prime Minster’s comments come after the killing of eight Israeli soldiers


Israeli Prime Minister has said that Israel will continue with the goals of the war - to free the hostages, dismantle Hamas and ensure that residents can return safely to the north and south of Israel (Photo: Getty Images)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to “stick to the goals of the war”, despite the deaths of eight more Israeli soldiers and the calls for a hostage deal from relatives of hostages and much of the wider public.

Speaking after the announcement of one of the deadliest attacks on IDF soldiers since the start of the war after an armoured carrier was hit by an explosion on Saturday, Netanyahu said: "Israeli citizens, today we paid another heartbreaking price in our just war for the defence of the homeland. In deep sorrow, in heavy mourning, I bow my head together with all the citizens of Israel and mourn the fall of our heroic warriors."

"Despite the heavy and staggering cost, we must stick to the goals of the war: the destruction of Hamas' military and governmental capabilities, the return of all our hostages, ensuring that Gaza no longer poses a threat to Israel and the safe return of our residents to their homes - both in the north and in the south."

The soldiers were all members of a combat engineering unit. They died after their vehicle hit by an explosion that detonated engineering materials being carried on the vehicle.

The casualties were identified as Cpt. Wassem Mahmoud, 23, from Beit Jann; Sgt. Eliyahu Moshe Zimbalist, 21, from Beit Shemesh; Sgt. Itay Amar, 19, from Kochav Yair; Sgt. Stanislav Kostarev, 21, from Ashdod; Sgt. Or Blumovitz, 20, from Pardes Hanna-Karkur; Sgt. Oz Yeshaya Gruber, 20, from Tal Menashe; and Sgt. Yakir Ya’akov Levi, 21, from Hafetz Haim. The final name was due to be released later.

Relatives of Cpt. Wassem Mahmoud, who was from a Druze village, said that he was injured on October 7 but had insisted on returning to the battlefield.

Two other soldiers, reservists, Cpt. (res.) Eitan Koplovich, 28, from Jerusalem, and Warrant Officer (res.) Elon Weiss, 49, from Psagot, were killed in a separate attack over the weekend, it was announced.

The deaths of the soldiers come a week after centrist former general Benny Gantz quit the government, accusing the PM of having no proper strategy for Gaza.

Last night, thousands of people protested in Tel Aviv, demanding the Israeli government do more to secure the release of the hostages still being held by Hamas terrorists in Gaza.

Many people at the protests, which are now taking place weekly, also called for fresh elections.

Ofer Kalderon, the son of Rotem Kalderon, one of the hostages captured by Hamas, said at the protest: "I'm not ready to live in a world full of death. I am not ready to live in a country with a government that sends us to settle in the borders and fight in wars and, in the end, abandons us. I'm not ready to live without a father."

Michal Lubnov, the wife of hostage Alex Lubnov, said: "Say ‘yes’ to the deal, bring everyone back home; the living for rehabilitation and their families and the dead for a dignified burial in their country."

116 hostages remain in Gaza after four were rescued last week.

In the meantime, the Israeli military announced today that it would hold daily tactical pauses in military activity in parts of southern Gaza to allow more aid to flow into the area, where international aid organisations have warned of a growing humanitarian crisis.

It said military activity would be halted from 5am until 4pm GMT daily until further notice along the road that leads from the Kerem Shalom Crossing to the Salah al-Din Road and then northwards.

Fighting in the city of Rafah, where Israel is targeting the remaining groups of Hamas terrorists, would continue, the military said.

The war began on October 7 when Hamas launched a deadly attack in Israel, murdering around 1,200 people and abducting some 250. 

The number of soldiers killed since October 7 has now risen to 658.

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