Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu vows to ‘completely eliminate evil’ Hamas from existence as he reveals IDF forces have been fighting in Gaza to destroy terror group and ‘bring back’ hostages – and insists ‘we will come out triumphant’

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to ‘completely eliminate’ Hamas on Saturday night as he revealed IDF forces have been fighting within the Gaza Strip to get rid of ‘evil’ and ‘bring back’ hostages.

He told Israeli citizens that the ongoing ground operation is the second phase of the war against Hamas, which he said would see Israeli ‘good’ triumph over ‘evil’.

The IDF is exhausting every option to bring hostages home to their loved ones, Netanyahu added, saying he today met with families of those thought to be trapped in Gaza and that his ‘heart is broken’. 

The press conference came just 24 hours after Israel confirmed it would be expanding ground operations into Gaza.

‘The war inside the Gaza Strip will be difficult and long,’ Mr Netanyahu said. 

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to 'completely eliminate' Hamas on Saturday night

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to ‘completely eliminate’ Hamas on Saturday night

‘Israel is fighting not only its own war but a war for the whole of humanity, a fight against barbarism.’

He also hit out at other Middle Eastern leaders and protesters around the world who have accused Israel of war crimes, saying this claim is ‘hypocritical’ after more than 1,400 people were killed in Hamas’ assault on October 7. 

The Israeli PM called upon those still in northern Gaza to head south, reiterating claims that Hamas uses hospitals as their bases and exploit Palestinian citizens as human shields.

He continued: ‘There are moments in which a nation faces two options: to exist or to cease. And right now this is the kind of test we’re facing and I have no doubt how it will end. We will come out triumphant. We will triumph.

‘In the first weeks of the war there were massive airstrikes against the enemy and increased force over the past few days in order to help our enter from the ground in the safest manner.

‘We have eliminated countless murderers… and we’ve eradicated the infrastructure of terrorism – and it is only the beginning of the road. Our fight inside Gaza strip will be long and difficult. We are prepared for that.

‘This is Israel’s second war of independence. We will fight for the protection of our home land and we will fight on the ground and in the air and in the sea. We will eliminate the enemy above the ground and beneath the ground.

‘We will fight and we will win and this will be the triumph of good over evil, light over darkness, life over death, And in this war stand together firmly, united more than ever, certain of our just way.

‘This is mission of our lives, the mission of my life.’

Israeli ground forces were operating in the northern Gaza Strip Saturday, the army said, more than 24 hours after entering the Palestinian territory three weeks into war with Hamas.

‘Since early Friday evening, combined combat forces of armour, combat engineers and infantry have been operating on the ground in the northern Gaza Strip,’ an army statement said.

Israeli forces have made several smaller-scale ground incursions inside Gaza, but the current one has been their longest presence in the territory since violence erupted with a deadly Hamas assault on October 7.

Earlier on Saturday, Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant said the war had ‘entered a new phase’ with the intense overnight bombing campaign.

‘Last night the ground in Gaza shook. We attacked above ground and below ground,’ Gallant said in a video statement, alluding to the network of military tunnels Hamas has built under Gaza.

‘The instructions to the forces are clear: the action will continue until further notice.’

This is a breaking news story and is being updated. 

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