Netanyahu claims that as soldiers get ready for a "long and difficult" fight, the war has entered a new phase.
His words echoed those of some troops on the ground who told NBC News that they are prepared for a fight that could last “months.”
In a televised address, Netanyahu told the nation that the war had entered a new phase, invoking Israel’s foundational conflict from the 1940s and saying it was the country’s “second independence war.”
Amid a febrile atmosphere in Israel, with families of the 229 hostages taken during the Oct. 7 attack demanding their return, he said his goal remains to bring them home and defeat Hamas.
After meeting some of the families he has been criticized for not paying enough attention to, he declared, "This mission is not a simple or easy one," just hours later. It's going to be hard and drawn out. We're prepared.
Netanyahu is under intense pressure to bring about the defeat of Hamas and the release of the captives. He is also under scrutiny for the security and intelligence lapses that allowed for the attack. Several political observers speculated that it may be the end of his career, and the press conference on Saturday was the first time he had accepted questions from the Israeli media since the incident and possibly even before.
'Second stage of the war'
"Bringing the hostages home and destroying Hamas's military and political capabilities are the two clear objectives of this second stage of the war," he declared.
According to military experts, Israel launched one of the most powerful nighttime bombardments on Gaza this century on Friday.