Benjamin Netanyahu poured cold water over the notion of a permanent ceasefire between Israel and Hamas at the conclusion of a 72-hour truce on Friday, claiming he’s “not sure the battle is over” with the Gaza terrorist group.
The Israeli prime minister spoke with Fox News’ Sean Hannity for an interview set to air Thursday at 10 p.m., addressing both the current month-long conflict and the broader struggle between Israel and Islamic extremism.
According to a Fox News transcript, Hannity asked Netanyahu whether he believes Israel won their latest battle with Hamas. “I’m not sure the battle is over,” the prime minister replied. “I think we’ve degraded their capabilities significantly; I think we’ve taken out tunnels that we know about. There may be some that we don’t know about.”
“It took them years to build,” he continued, “and I think they have to take into account the possibility that if they continue, we’ll continue to respond. And we are organized. … It really depends on whether they want to continue this battle.”
Hamas officials negotiating with Israel in Egypt have recently threatened to renew the fighting Friday morning unless their demands were met.
Netanyahu repeated his commitment to “a peaceful solution” and stressed that “we have nothing against the people of Gaza.” Close to two thousand Palestinians — many civilians — have died in the fighting.
The prime minister also talked about his concern that weapons of mass destruction will fall into the hands of Islamic militants backed by Iran — a reference to Hezbollah, Israel’s belligerent neighbor in southern Lebanon.
“If in this great malaise, this great confrontation, this great battle, one of these militants, in this case the Shiite militants backed by Iran, sponsored by Iran, if they have an Iranian nuclear umbrella, if Iran itself can intimidate the U.S. with intercontinental ballistic missiles carrying nuclear warheads then we bring history into a different threshold altogether,” Netanyahu asserted.
“It’s not a spin, it’s not a whim,” he said. “It is a clinical diagnosis of a pathological movement that is sweeping our area, but will soon come to a theater near you. And it has to be stopped now.”
WATCH (video via Fox News):