Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected a counteroffer from Hamas on a potential hostage deal, insisting that he will settle for nothing less than “total victory.”
According to Middle East Eye, Hamas proposed a 135-day ceasefire in three 45-day phases with the goal of reaching a permanent truce. During the first phase, Hamas would release all the women (non-military), children, eldery, and sick Israeli hostages that remain in Gaza.
In exchange, Israel would release all Palestinian women, children, sick and elderly prisoners over 50 years old from Israel prisons, and an additional 1,500 Palestinian prisoners. Hamas also wants Israel to withdraw from populated areas of Gaza and allow Palestinians the freedom of movement inside the Strip.
Throughout the next phases, Hamas would release all Israeli soldiers and men it still has hostage, and Israel would release an unspecified number of Palestinian prisoners. The goal by the end of the 135 days would be to reach an agreement on a permanent cessation of hostilities.
When asked if Israel has formally rejected Hamas’s offer, Netanyahu said, “Based on what they passed to us? From what I’ve seen so far — you, too, would have said no.”
He said there is “no solution besides total victory” and claimed an Israeli victory is “within reach.” But his comments come as Hamas is re-establishing itself in northern Gaza, where Israel’s military declared victory against the Palestinian group. Reports also say Israel is nowhere near close to destroying the vast tunnel network under Gaza.
Netanyahu’s rejection of Hamas’s proposal came a day after it was revealed that Israel believes 30 out of the 136 Israeli hostages inside Gaza are dead. Netanyahu claims military pressure is the only way to free the hostages, but the Israeli onslaught risks killing the remaining survivors.
So far, the Israeli slaughter in Gaza has killed over 27,000 Palestinians, including over 11,500 children. As the assault continues, many more Palestinians could die of starvation and disease caused by the Israeli siege.