Israel will not agree to any ceasefire with Hamas unless the terrorist group releases the more than 200 hostages it kidnapped during its Oct. 7 attacks, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday following a tour of Ramon Air Force Base in the Negev Desert.
“There will be no ceasefire without the return of the hostages. This should be completely removed from the lexicon. We say this to our friends and to our enemies: We will continue until we defeat them. We have no alternative,” Netanyahu told air force personnel.
“Our enemies misjudged us. They thought that on the crucial day, we would not report for duty. We reported together and now we are fighting shoulder-to-shoulder,” added the prime minister, in an apparent reference to the judicial reform controversy.
Netanyahu concluded by saying, “The entire nation is united and relies on you, appreciates what you are doing and believes in you. We will continue together until victory.”
At least 1,400 people were killed in Hamas’s Oct. 7 surprise attacks on southern Israeli communities. The number of confirmed hostages held captive in the Gaza Strip stands at 240, including an unknown number of U.S. citizens.
On Saturday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met in Amman with the Jordanian and Egyptian foreign ministers to discuss the Israel-Hamas war. Following the tête-à-tête, the Arab diplomats called for an immediate ceasefire.
During an unannounced meeting with Blinken in Ramallah on Sunday, Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas called on Washington to press for a ceasefire, according to P.A. spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh.
U.S. President Joe Biden has said that he is against a ceasefire, while at the same time voicing support for a “humanitarian pause” in Israel’s operations in the Gaza Strip.