Israel rejected calls for a Gaza ceasefire on Sunday, with military experts stating their plans to intensify operations against Hamas, but without providing a timeline.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has firmly insisted on the immediate and unconditional release of all the 240 hostages who were unlawfully seized by Hamas during their aggressive assaults on October 7th.
Netanyahu reiterated the government’s unwavering stance during his address to the crews at the Ramon air force base in southern Israel, stating that the return of the hostages is a non-negotiable prerequisite for any ceasefire. He further emphasized that this condition should be permanently eliminated from the lexicon.
We express this sentiment to both our allies and adversaries alike. Our determination remains unwavering until we achieve victory over them. We are left with no other recourse.
The Israeli military has employed a multi-pronged approach, utilizing ground forces, air support, and naval power to relentlessly strike Gaza and expand its presence in the confined coastal region. The objective is to dismantle Hamas’ infrastructure, eliminate high-ranking officials, and disrupt their command and control mechanisms.
According to Israeli military sources, the ongoing close urban combat between the forces and Hamas fighters in Gaza City makes it risky and uncertain to break off contact for a temporary cessation of hostilities. The forces have reportedly penetrated deep into Gaza and have surrounded the city.
According to Itamar Yaar, a former deputy head of Israel’s National Security Council and current manager of the Commanders for Israel’s Security group, the military’s focus is on completing the job professionally and step by step to minimize any potential harm, despite the absence of time constraints. Yaar also noted that the current situation in Gaza differs from previous operations.
If Israel successfully achieves its objectives, the ongoing operation is expected to conclude within a span of three to four weeks, as conveyed by Yaar.
He mentioned that the outcome would heavily depend on the number of casualties and unforeseen incidents.
On Saturday, U.S Secretary of State Antony Blinken held a meeting with foreign ministers from Egypt, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates in Amman, Jordan. During the meeting, the ministers requested Blinken to use his influence to convince Israel to accept a ceasefire.
During his unannounced visit to the Israeli-occupied West Bank, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas urged for an instant ceasefire when he met with top U.S. diplomat Blinken. Despite U.S. efforts to prevent the Israel-Hamas war from escalating, Blinken has dismissed calls for a ceasefire and is currently on his second visit to the region in less than a month.
More than 9,770 Palestinians have been reported killed in the ongoing conflict, as stated by Gaza health officials. The war commenced on October 7th when Hamas initiated a sudden assault on southern Israel, resulting in the loss of 1,400 lives and the capture of over 240 hostages.
According to Israeli security sources, there is a possibility of a brief cessation of hostilities for a limited period, subject to the prevailing situation on the ground. Avi Issacharoff, a military analyst, stated that the objective is to cause significant damage to Hamas’ military capacity without completely eradicating it. He further added that Israel may agree to a temporary pause, but only for a few hours, as anything longer may not be acceptable to the Israeli public and could lead to severe criticism of the government and the prime minister.
Last week, Abu Ubaida, the spokesperson for the Izz el-Deen al-Qassam Brigades, stated that Hamas would only consider releasing the hostages if Israel were to release all Palestinian prisoners. Additionally, he mentioned that Hamas is open to engaging in discussions regarding a potential “partial” agreement concerning the captives.