On February 7, 2024, the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu rejected a proposal for a ceasefire truce by Hamas saying that victory is within reach and only total defeat of the movement that rules Gaza Strip would ensure Israel’s security. “We are on the path of total victory. Victory is within reach,” he said at a televised press briefing, adding that triumph was months away. Only total victory will allow us to restore security in Israel both in the north as well as in the south.
The Israeli premier was speaking a day after Hamas said it had delivered its response to a proposed ceasefire deal for Gaza drawn up by the US and Israeli spy chiefs and delivered to Hamas last week by Qatari and Egyptian mediators.
Hamas response offered a ceasefire in Gaza for four and half months during which all hostages will be released, Israel would withdraw its forces from the Gaza Strip and an agreement would be reached on an end to the war. By paving the path for the returning of remaining 136 hostages, Israel says, are still held in Gaza, the offer meets one of Israel’s goals of war. However, it also challenges Israel’s main pledge to keep fighting until Hamas is destroyed.
“The day after is the day of Hamas. All of Hamas,” Netanyahu told a news conference saying that Israel’s military had killed or wounded more than half of Hamas armed forces in the four months of war. Netanyahu, who is under competing pressure from far-right members of the coalition government, who say they will quit rather than endorse any deal that fails to eradicate Hamas and from families of hostages who demand a deal to bring them home.
Israel’s air and ground offensive in Gaza has killed at least 27,500 Palestinians, displaced most of the strip’s 2.3 million population and plunged the blockaded coastal enclave into a humanitarian catastrophe, prompting a charge of genocide denied by Israel at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), an important legal organ of the United Nations.
The war was triggered by a Hamas led attack on southern Israel’s towns and military bases on October 7, 2023, in which 1200 people were killed and 253 seized as hostages. During the truce so far, which lasted a week at the end of November, a total of 110 Israeli and foreign hostages were released in exchange for 240 Palestinians Israel was holding all together.