Netanyahu Rejects Hamas Ceasefire Offer, Aims for Total Victory in Gaza

Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has firmly rejected the ceasefire terms proposed by Hamas, asserting that a “total victory” in Gaza could be achieved within months. This statement came after Hamas presented a list of demands as a counter to the ceasefire proposal endorsed by Israel. Netanyahu criticized the negotiation efforts with Hamas as futile and labeled their demands as “unusual.”

Despite ongoing discussions to secure an agreement, Netanyahu emphasized at a press conference that the only acceptable outcome is a comprehensive and definitive victory. He warned that allowing Hamas to remain in Gaza would only delay the inevitable occurrence of another tragedy.

The response from Israel to Hamas’s counter-proposal was a definitive rejection, with Israeli officials considering Hamas’s attempt to dictate the terms of the war’s end as completely unacceptable. Sami Abu Zuhri, a senior official from Hamas, dismissed Netanyahu’s comments as mere political posturing, indicating an intent to continue the conflict.

Negotiations mediated by Egypt and Qatar are expected to continue in Cairo, with an Egyptian official urging all parties to demonstrate the flexibility needed to achieve a peaceful resolution. Netanyahu’s dismissal of Hamas’s proposal stands in sharp contrast to Qatar’s positive assessment of the response.

Hamas’s counter-proposal, revealed on Tuesday, includes a phased approach to ceasefire: The proposed ceasefire plan unfolds in three phases. In the first phase, a 45-day ceasefire would initiate the exchange of hostages and prisoners, alongside the withdrawal of Israeli forces from populated areas in Gaza, marking the start of vital infrastructure reconstruction. The second phase aims to exchange the remaining male Israeli hostages for Palestinian prisoners, coupled with the complete withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza. The final phase, phase three, entails the exchange of the remains and bodies of those lost in the conflict and an increase in food and aid deliveries to Gaza. Hamas expects that, following a 135-day pause in hostilities, negotiations to definitively conclude the war would have been successfully completed.

The conflict has led to significant loss of life, with around 1,300 fatalities resulting from Hamas attacks on southern Israel on October 7 of the previous year and over 27,700 Palestinians killed, alongside at least 65,000 injuries, due to the subsequent Israeli military response, as reported by the health ministry run by Hamas.