Netanyahu: "Israel will ultimately have to topple the Hamas regime"
Israel will ultimately have to topple the Hamas regime which rules the Gaza Strip where it is currently waging war, leader Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday.
"At the end of the day, there will be no escape from toppling the Hamas rule... If the government decides to adopt this goal, we will also back it," the former prime minister told reporters in Jerusalem.
"Israel must achieve a decisive victory against Hamas, a victory that will fundamentally damage its ability to launch terror attacks against Israel," he said.
Ending Hamas rule in Gaza is not the declared aim of Israel’s military offensive, although Mr Olmert and his cabinet have sent out conflicting signals on what they hope to achieve. There have been many reports of cabinet divisions over when and how to stop the campaign, and Mr Netanyahu’s remarks will increase the pressure on the government to step up the ground offensive.
“Israel must achieve a decisive victory against Hamas, a victory that will fundamentally damage its ability to launch terror attacks against Israel,” said the former prime minister. “Hamas . . . must ultimately be removed from Gaza”.
said Netanyahu, whom polls indicate is likely to become the Jewish state's prime minister following parliamentary elections on February 10.
Likud party leader Netanyahu accused Israel's archfoe Iran of backing the Islamist movement, which seized power in Gaza in June 2007, and providing it with weapons that are smuggled into the impoverished enclave through Egypt.
"Israel cannot tolerate an Iranian base right next to its cities," he said.