JERUSALEM, Oct 13 (Reuters) – Israel is waging all-out war on Hamas militants to effect permanent change and safeguard its future as a prosperous democracy, Defence Minister Yoav Gallant said on Friday, describing the faction as part of an “axis of evil” with Iran.
Asked during a news conference with his U.S. counterpart Lloyd Austin whether Tehran consented to the weekend Hamas onslaught from the Gaza Strip, Gallant said: “It doesn’t matter … (because) the idea is an Iranian idea.”
As fighting raged into its seventh day, Gallant said Palestinian civilians “who want to save their lives” must heed Israel’s warning to evacuate southward in the enclave – amid U.N. warnings that the humanitarian crisis there could spiral.
He declined, however, to answer a reporter’s question on whether Israel – which has signalled that a ground invasion could follow its current air barrage on Gaza – would stick to the 24-hour evacuation notice it issued on Friday morning.
“This is a war for the existence of Israel as a prosperous state, as a democratic state, as homeland of the Jewish people,” Gallant said.
“We are fighting for our home. We are fighting for our future,” he said. “The path will be long, but ultimately I promise you we will win.”
(Writing by Dan Williams, Editing by Ari Rabinovitch and Christina Fincher)