Netanyahu Says IDF, Not 'International Forces,' to Control Gaza After War

AP Photo/Ariel Schalit

On Friday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) will remain in control of Gaza once the war is ended and Hamas is removed as a force. 


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says that the IDF will remain in control of Gaza after the war in comments likely to raise eyebrows in the international community, hours after he told Fox News that Israel does not want to re-occupy or govern the Strip.

Earlier this week, Netanyahu told ABC News that Israel will have “overall security responsibility” over the Gaza Strip “for an indefinite period” after the war against Hamas ends.

The latest comments are made in a meeting with the mayors of Gaza border towns — the first group meeting that Netanyahu has held with them since the war, something he came under fire for earlier this week when he chose to first meet with a group of settlement mayors.

“IDF forces will remain in control of the Strip, we will not give it to international forces,” Netanyahu tells the southern mayors, according to a readout from his spokesperson.

Netanyahu's statement appears to be a reversal, coming as it does hours after he told Fox News that Israel was not seeking to displace Gazans or rule Gaza.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu publicly stated for the first time in the war against Hamas that Israel does not seek to displace Palestinians from the Gaza Strip, after a growing number of regional leaders expressed fears that this was Jerusalem’s ulterior motive.


What Prime Minister Netanyahu is describing here is essentially the occupation of a hostile territory, and he names no end date or exit strategy, and indeed no other country, not even neighboring Muslim Arab countries, has been willing to govern Gaza. Some time ago, the rule of Gaza was in fact offered to Egypt, who refused:

Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak reportedly refused rule of Gaza even on a temporary basis some years ago:

This doesn't speak well of the reputation Gazans have in the rest of the Muslim Arab world.

No matter how decisively the IDF defeats Hamas in Gaza, any long-term control of that territory is bound to be difficult, at best. It's unlikely that the Israelis will be able to eliminate every Hamas terrorist; it's probable some have already eluded the IDF and joined the refugee stream leaving the areas where fighting is ongoing. Hamas and other Islamist terrorists have shown one key attribute of the revolutionary, as Mao Zedong described it, namely that "...the guerrilla must move amongst the people as a fish swims in the sea."


There can be little doubt that some Hamas terrorists are swimming away from the fighting in that sea of refugees, and will return when things settle down - and continue making trouble for the IDF.

The elephant in the room, of course, is Hamas' senior leadership, who for the moment are safely settled in luxury digs in Qatar - and even London, in government-subsidized housing at that. It would be surprising in the extreme if the Mossad, Israel's intelligence apparatus, is not seeking ways to formally or informally extradite these individuals to Israel (or to deal with them in some more sudden and final manner). Until the head is cut off this snake, Israel's conflict with Hamas in Gaza and elsewhere will only continue.

Meanwhile, even the United States is feeling the sting of this conflict, as incidents of anti-Jewish hate are increasing by the day

As for PM Netanyahu's statement, he went on to promise security and "economic aid" to the southern Israel towns hit hardest by Hamas atrocities on October 7th.

The mayors told Netanyahu that they want a different security reality after the war is over and urged him not to agree to a ceasefire until the last terrorist in Gaza is killed, the statement from the premier’s spokesperson says.

Netanyahu also promised the mayors that the government that the government will supply the Gaza border towns with economic aid to compensate for the damages incurred during the October 7 massacre.


These mayors are right to demand the elimination of Hamas. But no matter what is promised or offered, nothing in southern Israel will ever be the same again.


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