Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that Israel would not agree to a general ceasefire in the ongoing war in Gaza, but would consider “tactical little pauses” to allow humanitarian aid or the release of hostages held by Hamas militants. He also said that Israel would need to maintain security responsibility over the Palestinian enclave for an “indefinite period” after the war.
Netanyahu made these remarks in an interview with ABC News on Monday night, as Israel marked a month since the Hamas attack on southern Israel that killed 1,400 people and triggered the war. He said that a general ceasefire would hamper Israel’s efforts to destroy Hamas, the Islamist group that rules Gaza and that Israel considers a terrorist organization.
“As far as tactical little pauses – an hour here, an hour there – we’ve had them before. I suppose we’ll check the circumstances to enable goods, humanitarian goods to come in, or our hostages, individual hostages, to leave,” Netanyahu said. “But I don’t think there’s going to be a general ceasefire.”
He added that Israel would continue to have the “overall security responsibility” in Gaza, as it had seen what happened when it did not have it. He was referring to the 2005 Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, which was followed by Hamas’ takeover of the territory in 2007 and several rounds of fighting since then.
Netanyahu’s comments came as the UN Security Council failed again to agree on a resolution on the war, which has killed more than 10,000 Palestinians, including about 4,100 children, according to Gaza health officials. International organizations have warned of a humanitarian crisis in the besieged and densely populated enclave, where hospitals are overwhelmed, food and water are scarce, and aid deliveries are insufficient.
“We need an immediate humanitarian ceasefire. It’s been 30 days. Enough is enough. This must stop now,” said a statement from the heads of several UN bodies on Monday, including the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the World Health Organization, and the UN aid chief.
The US, Israel’s main ally, has also been pushing for humanitarian pauses in the fighting, but has not endorsed a full ceasefire. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Monday that the US was “working tirelessly” to end the violence and to facilitate the delivery of aid to Gaza.
Both Israel and Hamas have rebuffed the calls for a ceasefire, insisting on their own conditions. Israel says that Hamas must release all the hostages it took during its raid on October 7, when it killed 1,400 people in Israel and seized more than 240 hostages, mostly civilians. Hamas says that it will not free the hostages or stop fighting until Israel lifts its blockade on Gaza and stops its attacks.
The war has also sparked protests and clashes in the West Bank, where Palestinians have rallied in solidarity with Gaza, and in Israel, where Arab and Jewish citizens have clashed in several mixed towns. The violence has raised fears of a wider escalation in the region, as well as a further deterioration of the prospects for a peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.