Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has offered the clearest indication to date about what Israel may be planning for the aftermath of the war in the Gaza Strip, warning that it will need to oversee “overall security” there once the fighting is over to prevent future attacks.
With little appetite in Israel for a return to the days of a full military occupation of Gaza, Mr. Netanyahu provided few details of what his country’s role there might look like — but he made clear that it would be significant. The goal, he said in an interview with ABC News that aired on Monday, is to prevent a repeat of the Hamas attack that killed more than 1,400 people on Oct. 7.
“Israel will — for an indefinite period — will have the overall security responsibility because we’ve seen what happens when we don’t have it,” Mr. Netanyahu said. “When we don’t have that security responsibility, what we have is the eruption of Hamas terror on a scale that we couldn’t imagine.”
His comments were quickly endorsed by others in Israel, including the opposition leader, Yair Lapid, who suggested that Israel did not want to govern Gaza. Israeli forces previously withdrew from the territory in 2005, and President Biden has warned that it would be “a big mistake” for them to reoccupy it.
Mr. Netanyahu’s comments came as Israelis marked the one-month anniversary of the Hamas attack with small gestures and anguished calls for the return of the more than 240 hostages taken by Hamas fighters during their raid. Across the country, people lowered flags to half-staff at city halls and courthouses and stopped for a minute of silence at workplaces, schools and college campuses. Cafes set up shrines where people lit memorial candles.
In Gaza, heavy Israeli airstrikes, intensifying ground operations and a critical lack of basic resources have led to a mounting death toll and widespread suffering. More than 10,000 people, including more than 4,100 children, have been killed in the territory, according to its Health Ministry, which operates under the political arm of Hamas.
The United Nations secretary general, António Guterres, said on Monday that 89 employees of the U.N. agency that aids Palestinian refugees, known as UNRWA, had also been killed in Gaza. That is more “than in any comparable period in the history of our organization,” he told reporters, saying that many of the employees had been killed with members of their family.
Even as fighting still raged in Gaza, Antony J. Blinken, the secretary of state, said last week that the United States was in talks with Israel and other regional leaders about what “the day after” should look like. Two things, he said, were clear: Hamas cannot remain in power, and Israel has no desire to reoccupy Gaza.