"I just finished a meeting with US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, shortly after Hamas murderers murdered Israelis here in Jerusalem, and I told him: This is the same Hamas," Netanyahu said at the end of the meeting which came during Blinken's third trip to Israel since the war started.
This was after Blinken stressed the need to protect civilians. The US top diplomat "stressed the imperative of accounting for humanitarian and civilian protection needs in southern Gaza before any military operations there," according to a summary by the State Department, which added that Blinken "urged Israel to take every possible measure to avoid civilian harm."
As for the murders referenced by Netanyahu, on Thursday a pair of gunmen unleashed M16 and pistol fire on a crowd waiting at a Jerusalem bus stop, killing three Israelis and injuring 16. Shortly after the attack, Hamas claimed responsibility.
The Hamas statement said "the operation came as a natural response to unprecedented crimes conducted by the occupation" and further called for "an escalation of the resistance."
All of this will surely complicate the current temporary truce, which was just extended by two days. Ten Israeli hostages are set to be released in Thursday's swap, with two of them holding Russian citizenship.
Netanyahu had stressed to Blinken in the meeting: "It’s the same Hamas that committed the terrible massacre on October 7, the same Hamas that is trying to murder us everywhere."
"I told him we have sworn, and I have sworn, to destroy Hamas. Nothing will stop us," he informed a post-meeting press conference. Netanyahu has also made reference to this fresh terror attack in Jerusalem in stressing the need for broadly distributing weapons to the Israeli population, a controversial program which began soon after the Hamas Oct.7 terror raids on Southern Israel.
"The quick reaction of two fighters and a civilian who eliminated the terrorists prevented an even more serious attack. I salute them," Netanyahu wrote in a post on X. "The government headed by me will continue expanding the distribution of weapons to citizens. This is a measure that proves itself time and time again in the war against murderous terrorism."
Though a shaky ceasefire has held in Gaza since Friday, fighting has escalated in the West Bank town of Jenin, which as of Wednesday was declared by the Israel Defense Forces a "closed military zone". Automatic gunfire has been ringing out across the city since. International reports have documented the shootings of two Palestinian children:
Four people, including two children, were reportedly killed during a major Israeli incursion into the West Bank city of Jenin that the Israel Defense Forces said was aimed at suppressing jihadist activity.
Adam Samer al-Ghoul, eight, and Basil Suleiman Abu al-Wafa, 15, were shot dead during the fighting, Palestinian officials said, while the IDF said a terror leader and his associate had been found dead after their building was attacked.
A video from the Palestinian news agency Wafa appeared to show Adam being shot dead in a street by what the agency said were Israeli forces. No shooter can be seen in the film and there was no immediate comment from the IDF.
Two Palestinian children were killed by Israeli forces on Wednesday morning during their ongoing raid in the occupied West Bank city of Jenin and its refugee camp.— Middle East Eye (@MiddleEastEye) November 29, 2023
The Palestinian Ministry of Health identified the two boys killed as nine-year-old Adam Samer Al-Ghoul and… pic.twitter.com/AhF3xjokC7
While there has been growing violence in various parts of the West Bank, what's happening in Jenin - including major gunfights between armed Palestinians and and the IDF - is the biggest escalation outside Gaza thus far since Oct.7.
At the same time, US, Israeli, and Qatari officials are in Doha scrambling to continue an extension of the truce. Some regional states like Iraq have recently warned that if the ceasefire can't become permanent, a bigger regional war is on the horizon. Still a last-minute deal saw the truce get extended by a day, through Thursday.