Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has turned down a three-stage 135-day ceasefire plan from Hamas following a proposal from Qatari and Egyptian mediators.
Speaking at a press conference last night Netanyahu is determined to destroy Hamas as the conflict in Gaza intensifies. Despite intense pressure to agree a deal from hostage families and global leaders, Netanyahu described the terms of negotiation as “bizarre” and were “not going anywhere”.
“There is no other solution but a complete and final victory,” he noted. “If Hamas will survive in Gaza, it’s only a question of time until the next massacre.”
The plan came 24 hours after news broke in the New York Times that 31 of the 136 hostages held in Gaza are dead. Families of the 32 hostages have been informed.
US Secretary of State Blinken met key officials over the past 48 hours in his fifth visit to the region since the October 7 terror attack.
Israel’s war cabinet evaluated the Hamas deal. Stage one would see the release of Israeli female hostages, males under 19, the elderly and sick for Palestinian women and minors in Israeli prisons. Israel must allow the reconstruction of hospitals and IDF withdrawal from populated areas of the Strip. Israeli male hostages would be released for Palestinian prisoners and withdrawal of IDF forces from Gaza in stage two. Hamas would release bodies and remains in a third stage for more prisoners.
US President Joe Biden described Hamas’s response as “a little over the top”.
Earlier this week Opposition leader Yair Lapid offered support to Netanyahu if Finance Minister Smotrich’s Religious Zionism Party and National Security Minister Ben Gvir’s Jewish Power are removed from office.
Following a meeting with Netanyahu, Lapid said: “The most important thing is to get the hostages back.”
US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told NBC’s Meet the Press: “Everybody wants an end to the war. But for this to happen all the hostages need to come home and Hamas needs to no longer pose a threat to Israel.”
Defence Minister Yom Gallant addressed Hamas’s leadership including Yahya Sinwar on Monday.
“Sinwar goes from hideout to hideout, is unable to communicate with his surroundings, and in recent days, IDF troops have found significant materials in the places where he had recently been, and thanks to them, we are deepening our grip on Hamas’s plans,” he said.
Gallant added there was “panic and distress” in the group’s hierarchy with the IDF progressing.
“Sinwar does not lead the campaign, does not command the forces,” he said. “He is busy with his personal survival. He turned from the head of Hamas into a fugitive terrorist, and IDF forces continue to pursue him.”
Gallant called for a political solution to conflict with Hamas.
“Only the advancement of a political alternative will ensure the end of Hamas’s rule,” he explained. “There will be no civilian Israeli control in the Strip. This is the time to make the right decisions so that we can meet the political goals we have set.”
Gallant confirmed the IDF are ready for a ground operation in Rafah as Hamas was close to defeat in Khan Yunis after sustained IDF strikes.
He said. “We will reach the places in which we haven’t fought yet, and especially the last centre of gravity that remains in Hamas’s hands, Rafah. Every terrorist who is hiding in Rafah needs to know that his end will be either surrender or death. There isn’t a third option.”
With Israel on high alert Netanyahu and his wife Sara, meanwhile, visited United Hatzalah headquarters in Jerusalem on Tuesday.
“Jews and Arabs, secular and ultra-orthodox Jews are deployed throughout the country,” he said. “You have saved many people and you are doing amazing work.”
President Isaac Herzog met senior TikTok figures due to increased posts of antisemitism, fake news and anti-Israel hatred on the platform since the beginning of Hamas conflict.
Michael Beckerman, TikTok Vice President for Public Policy for the Americas, and Theo Bertram, Vice President for Government Relations and Public Policy for Europe, attended.
Hebrew University researcher Tom Divon presented research about antisemitism on the platform.
The TikTok executives were shown graphic content of the October 7 attack and Holocaust.
Beckerman and Bertram told Herzog over 160 million fake accounts had been identified spreading anti-Jewish and anti-Israel rhetoric. Both were disturbed by evidence presented and vowed to work with Herzog’s office and Israeli officials to end issues on the platform.
Herzog welcomed the open conversation. He said: “We must fight lies and hatred wherever we find them to prevent the negative impact on public opinion among the next generation around the world.”