Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday that there will be “no ceasefire” in attacks on Gaza without the release of hostages.
“Well, there’ll be no ceasefire, general ceasefire in Gaza without the release of our hostages,” Netanyahu said in an interview with ABC’s David Muir.
U.S. officials have been pressing Israel to agree to a humanitarian pause in Gaza, but so far have not convinced Israel to do so. In a phone call with Netanyahu on Monday, President Biden discussed the use of tactical pauses in Israel’s bombardment of Gaza — which has continued to escalate since the onset of the war.
In an interview following the phone call with Biden, Netanyahu signaled that tactical pauses could be a possibility in the future of the war.
“As far as tactical little pauses — an hour here an hour there — we’ve had them before, I suppose we’ll check the circumstances in order to enable the goods, humanitarian goods to come in, or our hostages, individual hostages to leave. But I don’t think there’s going to be a general ceasefire,” Netanyahu added.
Netanyahu had previously rejected the idea of a temporary ceasefire shortly after meeting with Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who had floated the issue of a “humanitarian pause.”
“I made clear that we are continuing full force and that Israel refuses a temporary cease-fire, which does not include the release of our hostages,” Netanyahu said in televised remarks reported by Reuters last week.
When Muir asked about the concerns of the hostages’ families that their loved ones may be harmed in Israel’s bombing of Gaza, Netanyahu emphasized that Israel is trying to reduce civilian deaths.
“Well, we’re taking that into consideration, believe me when there’s no one wants to get our hostages back more than us,” Netanyahu said. “I think that it’s important to understand that there is no way to defeat terrorists embedded in the civilian population without going as targeted away as you can against the terrorists.”
“But there’ll be unfortunately, these civilian casualties. We’ll do — again and again, I say — we will do everything in our power to reduce that,” he added.
The Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry said Monday that more than 10,000 Palestinians have died in the fighting since the outbreak of the war on Oct. 7. More than 1,400 Israelis were killed in that initial attack last month, and more than 200 people were taken hostage by Hamas.