Netanyahu speech makes no mention of halt in Gaza

"We are engaged right now in forceful deterrence but I have to say we don't rule out anything, we hope we can restore quiet, we hope we can restore it quickly. I want to say that we are doing that while doing our utmost to avoid civilian casualties," he told the diplomats on Wednesday (May 19).

In remarks reported in Israeli media from a closed-door question and answer session, he was quoted as saying: "We're not standing with a stopwatch. We want to achieve the goals of the operation. Previous operations lasted a long time so it is not possible to set a timeframe."

Israeli forces pounded Gaza with air strikes and Hamas militants renewed cross-border rocket attacks on Wednesday, pressing on with a conflict that has caused widespread destruction in the Palestinian enclave and kept Israelis running for shelter.

Gaza medical officials say 219 people have been killed since fighting flared on May 10, and Israeli authorities put the death toll in Israel at 12. Regional and U.S.-led diplomatic efforts to secure a ceasefire have intensified but so far failed.

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