update deskIsrael at War

IDF denies NYT claim generals pressing gov’t for ceasefire

Netanyahu: "I don't know who these unnamed sources are, but I'm here to make it unequivocally clear: It won't happen."

Incoming Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israel's Defense Minister Yoav Gallant during the former's inauguration at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on Jan. 16, 2023. Photo by Alex Kolomoisky/POOL.
Incoming Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israel's Defense Minister Yoav Gallant during the former's inauguration at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on Jan. 16, 2023. Photo by Alex Kolomoisky/POOL.

The Israel Defense Forces on Tuesday denied a New York Times report that the military leadership is pressing for a ceasefire with Hamas in Gaza, even if this keeps the terror group in power for the time being.

“The IDF is determined to continue fighting to achieve the goals of the war,” the army said in a statement, listing the destruction of Hamas’s military and governmental powers, freeing the hostages and the return of Israeli civilians to towns near the southern and northern borders.

“So far, significant achievements have been made as part of the fighting in Gaza,” the statement continued. “The IDF will continue to fight Hamas everywhere in Gaza, along with the continued advancement of military readiness in the north and defensive efforts on all borders.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office also released a statement on Tuesday afternoon, vowing not to “succumb to defeatist spirits, neither at The New York Times nor anywhere else.”

“I don’t know who these unnamed sources are, but I’m here to make it unequivocally clear: It won’t happen. We will end the war only after we have achieved all of its goals, including the elimination of Hamas and the release of all our hostages,” continued the premier.

“The political echelon has defined these goals for the IDF, and the IDF has all the means to achieve them,” the statement added.

The New York Times report, citing six current and former Israeli security officials, had claimed that the country’s top generals believe a truce deal would be the best way of freeing the some 120 Israelis still held in Gaza.

Generals also think forces need to prepare for all-out war with Hezbollah, the report said, claiming that the army is “underequipped for further fighting after Israel’s longest war in decades.”

A truce could make it easier to reach an agreement with the Iran-backed terror group in Lebanon, according to the sources, most of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive security matters.

“They believe that they can always go back and engage Hamas militarily in the future,” Eyal Hulata, who was Israel’s national security adviser from August 2021 to January 2023, told the paper. “They understand that a pause in Gaza makes de-escalation more likely in Lebanon.”

“They have less munitions, less spare parts, less energy than they did before—so they also think a pause in Gaza gives us more time to prepare in case a bigger war does break out with Hezbollah,” stated Hulata.

Last month, IDF Spokesperson Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari told Israel’s Channel 13 that Hamas rule cannot be defeated until a viable alternative is put in place, widening a rift with Netanyahu.

The spokesman said in the interview that the terror group is “an idea” and that as such “anyone who thinks it can be eliminated is wrong.”

The IDF is close to defeating Hamas’s final battalions in Rafah, he said. However, asked about efforts to return the remaining 120 hostages held in the Strip, he said it would be “impossible” to return all captives in rescue operations, adding that they should be freed “another way.”

Netanyahu’s office subsequently clarified that the government and military remain fully committed to eliminating Hamas’s terrorist rule.

“The Security Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has defined the destruction of Hamas’s military and governing capabilities as one of the war’s goals,” stated the Prime Minister’s Office. “The IDF, of course, is committed to this.”

Following the PMO statement, the IDF issued its own clarification, emphasizing that the army is “committed to achieving the goals of the war as defined by the Cabinet,” and that it has been working on this “throughout the war, day and night, and will continue to do so.”

Israeli ground forces entered Gaza on Oct. 27, following a weeks-long air campaign in response to the Oct. 7 massacre. Jerusalem’s stated goals for the war are to destroy Hamas as a military and governing force in Gaza, ensure that it can not threaten Israel again and return all hostages.

One-hundred and twenty hostages remain in the Strip, of whom 116 were abducted on Oct. 7 (the other four were captured earlier). The figure includes both living and deceased men, women and children.

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