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Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak speaks during a rally in June 2023.JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images

Former Israeli prime minister Ehud Barack says his country cannot relent in the Gaza war until it has wiped out Hamas’ military capacity, and civilian deaths are inevitable in this process.

Barak was speaking on the second day of the Halifax International Security Forum at an early morning “chat” with PBS correspondent Nick Schifrin.

About 1,200 people were killed in Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel, and 240 people, including children and the elderly, were taken back into Hamas-controlled territory as hostages.

Since Israel invaded the narrow territory on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea, Palestinian health authorities say more than 11,400 Palestinians — two-thirds of them women and minors — have died.

Barak, who was prime minister from 1999 to 2001, told the conference delegates he’s a fierce critic of current prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, likening current cabinet members to the U.S.-based far-right group Proud Boys.

But he said his country is united in its desire to complete the war, saying, “We have to finish it,” and adding that no Israeli government can survive if it doesn’t ensure Hamas cannot return to power.

There are about 300 delegates from around the world attending the three-day Halifax International Security Forum, an annual event dedicated to strengthening co-operation among democratic nations.

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