Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu says he has told visiting US Secretary of State Antony Blinken that he rejects any temporary halt to the fight against Hamas that does not include “the release of our hostages.
Blinken was in the Middle East for a second time in less than a month seeking to balance Washington’s support for Israel over a deadly Oct. 7 Hamas attack with concern over civilian casualties that have soared under an Israeli bombardment.
Speaking at a news conference, Blinken called for a humanitarian pause, saying it would allow for aid to enter Gaza and facilitate the work to secure the release of hostages while enabling Israel to achieve its goal of defeating Hamas.
A number of legitimate questions were raised in our discussions today including how to use any period of pause to maximize the flow of humanitarian assistance, how to connect the pause to the release of hostages, how to ensure that Hamas doesn’t use these pauses or arrangements to its own advantage,” Blinken told reporters at a Tel Aviv press conference.
“These are issues that we need to tackle urgently, and we believe they can be solved.”
Speaking shortly after Blinken, Netanyahu in a televised statement rejected the idea. “I made clear that we are continuing full force and that Israel refuses a temporary ceasefire which does not include the release of our hostages.”
Netanyahu then promised that victory would be “sharp and clear” and would “resonate for generations.”
He said Israel’s enemies aim to destroy the country and will fail. “We won’t stop until victory,” he says, specifying that this means “to destroy Hamas, [and attain the] return of the hostages and the restoration of security for our citizens and children.”
He praised Israel’s valiant soldiers, saying they are killing terrorists “around the clock” in Gaza, with close cooperation between the IDF’s ground and air forces.
Speaking while Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah issued a prolonged statement in Lebanon, Netanyahu warned Israel’s “enemies in the north” not to make the costly mistake of escalating the war. “You cannot imagine how much this will cost you.”
“We are trying to fight with minimal danger to our warriors, but we will do whatever is needed to defeat our enemies,” he concludes.