Israel "has no interest" in occupying Gaza but will do "whatever is needed" to eliminate Hamas, the country's ambassador to the United Nations said Sunday.
His remarks come after US President Joe Biden warned Israel against occupying the coastal enclave as it signals it is preparing for a ground invasion amid a spiraling humanitarian crisis.
"We have no interest to occupy Gaza or to stay in Gaza, but since we are fighting for our survival and the only way, as the president [Biden] himself defined is to obliterate Hamas, so we will have to do whatever is needed to obliterate their capabilities," Israel's ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan told CNN's Kaitlan Collins.
In an interview with CBS’ “60 Minutes” that aired Sunday, Biden said it would be a “big mistake” for Israel to occupy Gaza.His comments amount to one of the few times the US president has called on Israel to use restraint in responding to the Hamas attacks that left 1,400 dead.
Michael Herzog, the Israeli ambassador to the US, told CNN on Sunday that Israel does not intend to occupy Gaza after the conflict ends.
“We have no desire to occupy or reoccupy Gaza. We have no desire to rule over the lives of more than 2 million Palestinians,” Herzog said.
Biden meanwhile, has called for the protection of civilians as the US has been working to alleviate shortages of food, water and gas.
Erdan said water has been turned back on in southern Gaza, but he didn't say if electricity was on for desalination.