Jerusalem will not give up on its goal to destroy Hamas, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday, amid rumors the terrorist organization offered to release all hostages held in Gaza in exchange for an end to the Israel Defense Forces operation.
“There is no way we are not going back to fight to the end. This is my policy, the entire Cabinet stands behind it, the entire government stands behind it, the soldiers stand behind it, the people stand behind it—this is exactly what we will do,” said Netanyahu.
“From the beginning of the war, I set three goals: the elimination of Hamas, the return of all our hostages, and to ensure that Gaza will never again be a threat to Israel. These three goals remain,” the premier said.
“Over the last few days, I’ve heard a question: When this phase of returning our hostages is exhausted, will Israel return to fighting? My answer is an unequivocal yes,” he added.
On Tuesday afternoon, Army Radio Arab Affairs Correspondent Jacky Hugi reported on a proposal from Hamas to release all approximately 165 hostages still held captive, including IDF soldiers, in return for an indefinite end to Israel’s operation against the terrorist group.
Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich immediately rejected the suggestion Israel would agree to Hamas’s terms, writing on X (formerly Twitter) that the end of the war is “not on the agenda, not even as a suggestion.”
“This is a plan to eliminate the State of Israel. With God’s help, we will continue until the absolute victory and the destruction of the Hamas Nazis,” said Smotrich.
Hamas has asked for another extension of the hostages-for-ceasefire agreement it reached with Israel on Nov. 24, AFP reported earlier on Wednesday.
“Hamas has informed the mediators that it is willing to extend the truce for four days and that the movement would be able to release Israeli prisoners that it, other resistance movements and other parties hold during this period, according to the terms of the existing truce,” a source told the news agency.
The Islamist group is believed to be holding enough Israeli women and children in Gaza for the ceasefire to be extended for at least two more days, CNN said on Wednesday.
On Monday, the two sides agreed to extend the ceasefire for up to six days, if Hamas releases 10 Israeli women and children each day. Israel has agreed to free three jailed Palestinian terrorists for each hostage released.