Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dismissed the idea of a ceasefire with Hamas but indicated he was open to tactical “pauses” in fighting to allow the delivery of aid and release of hostages from Gaza, as international pressure mounts on Israel over the worsening humanitarian situation in the Palestinian territory.
In an interview with ABC News on Monday night, Netanyahu cited President Joe Biden as he rejected the idea of a ceasefire, saying it would be a “surrender to Hamas and would be a victory for Hamas.”
The Israeli Prime Minister said there will be no “general ceasefire” in Gaza without the release of hostages.
Netanyahu said as far as “tactical little pauses” lasting “an hour here or an hour there” is something they would consider to allow the delivery of humanitarian aid or the release of hostages.
Netanyahu also claimed that a ceasefire would hamper the Israeli military’s effort to get hostages out of Gaza, saying “the only thing that works on these criminals in Hamas is the military pressure we are exerting.”
In the event Hamas agrees to release all hostages in its custody the Israeli leader said there will be “a ceasefire for that purpose” but said this hasn’t happened so far.
What To Watch For
On the issue of who should govern Gaza if the Israeli forces can successfully topple Hamas from power, Netanyahu said it should be done by “those who don’t want to continue the way of Hamas.” He added: “Israel will for an indefinite period have the overall security responsibility [for Gaza] because we’ve seen what happens when we don’t have it.” This is the first indication by Netanyahu that Israeli forces will continue to occupy the territory after the war is over—something President Joe Biden has cautioned against.
When asked about the mounting civilian deaths in Gaza, including more than 4,000 children, Netanyahu said: “Every civilian life lost is a tragedy,” before he blamed Hamas for using its population as human shields. “While we’re asking the Palestinian civilian population to leave the warzone, they are preventing them at gunpoint.”
Last month, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said Hamas’ terror attack “cannot justify the collective punishment of the Palestinian people.” International law experts have pointed out that Hamas’ alleged use of civilians as human shields is illegal as those civilians still need to be protected as non-combatants under the law and any disproportionate harm to said “human shields” is still considered illegal. Over the weekend, Israeli forces struck an ambulance near a hospital in Gaza, claiming it was being used by Hamas. The decision to attack an ambulance drew strong condemnation from WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus who said he was “utterly shocked” and said “patients, health workers, facilities, and ambulances must be protected at all times.”
According to Haaretz, Israel is allowing expanded humanitarian aid to Gaza from Arab nations that have formal diplomatic relations with it. The Israeli daily noted that the government of the United Arab Emirates has been allowed to set up a field hospital in the Palestinian territory. A day earlier the Jordanian Air Force airdropped medical aid to Gaza in a move that Israeli forces said was done with their coordination.