Striking a defiant tone at a rare news briefing on Monday evening, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel ruled out a cease-fire in Gaza, dismissed calls for his resignation and rejected criticism of Israel’s strikes on civilian homes.
Mr. Netanyahu’s political opponents have called for him to resign over his failure to stop the attacks of Oct. 7, when terrorists from Gaza raided Israel and killed more than 1,400 people.
Abroad, the conduct of the Israeli counterattack on Gaza — which has killed more than 8,000 people, according to the Hamas-run Gazan health ministry — has generated widespread outcry, with humanitarian groups and the United Nations General Assembly calling for a cease-fire.
Speaking to reporters in Tel Aviv, Mr. Netanyahu said that Israel would not agree to a halt in attacks because, he argued, it would strengthen Hamas, the group that controls Gaza and led the attacks earlier this month.
“Just as the United States would not agree to a cease-fire after the bombing of Pearl Harbor or after the terrorist attack of 9/11, Israel will not agree to a cessation of hostilities with Hamas after the horrific attacks of Oct. 7,” Mr. Netanyahu said, adding that “calls for a cease-fire are calls for Israel to surrender to Hamas, to surrender to terrorism.
He then dismissed accusations that Israel is collectively punishing more than two million Gazans for the crimes of Hamas. Israel has cut off electricity, fuel and most food and water supplies to Gaza, and its airstrikes have killed more than 3,000 children, according to the Gazan health ministry.
On Sunday, António Guterres, the U.N. secretary general, said the number of civilians killed in Gaza was “totally unacceptable.” and that “all parties must respect their obligations under international humanitarian law.”
But Mr. Netanyahu said Israel was doing what it could to save civilian lives. He cited Israel’s warning civilians to move to southern Gaza, where there are fewer Israeli strikes.
“We’re going out of our way to prevent civilian casualties,” Mr. Netanyahu said.