Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has emphasized that a ceasefire in Gaza will not be considered until the Hamas militant group releases all the hostages they took captive following the unprecedented attack on October 7.
When questioned about potential temporary "humanitarian" pauses in the conflict, as suggested by US President Joe Biden and top administration officials, Prime Minister Netanyahu clarified during an interview with ABC News that a comprehensive ceasefire in Gaza is contingent upon the release of all hostages.
“Well, there'll be no ceasefire, general ceasefire, in Gaza without the release of our hostages. As far as tactical little pauses, an hour here, an hour there,” he said.
" We've had them before, I suppose, will check the circumstances in order to enable goods, humanitarian goods to come in, or our hostages, individual hostages to leave. But I don't think there's going to be a general ceasefire," he added.
According to Israeli authorities, Hamas is currently holding 240 people hostage in Gaza, including both Israelis and foreign nationals, with approximately 30 of them being children. So far, four civilian hostages have been released by the militant group, and an Israeli female soldier was successfully rescued by the country's forces. Hamas, on the other hand, has claimed that 57 hostages were killed during Israeli airstrikes.
Prime Minister Netanyahu stressed that a ceasefire could hinder their efforts in securing the release of hostages, as the only effective approach with Hamas, in his view, is continued military pressure.
When asked about the possibility of a ceasefire if Hamas were to agree to release the hostages, Netanyahu responded, "There will be a ceasefire for that purpose."
Regarding the governance of the region after the conflict subsides, he indicated that Israel might have an ongoing role to play for an indefinite period.
Netanyahu also addressed the involvement of Iran and Hezbollah in the conflict, cautioning them against deepening their engagement. He stated, "I think they've understood that if they enter the war in a significant way, the response will be very, very powerful and I hope they don't make that mistake."
(With agency inputs)