A reporter charged that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “wants all of the hostages dead,” in a panel discussion during a live news broadcast on Sunday, much to the ire of the ruling Likud party.
“Netanyahu has no real interest, no real incentive to release the hostages [held by Hamas in Gaza since October 7]. He wants them all dead, for his own reasons, to be martyrs,” Channel 13’s Gil Tamari said during the panel.
The hostages were captured during Hamas’s October 7 massacres, which saw thousands of terrorists kill some 1,200 people and kidnap over 250 to Gaza, mostly civilians, amid horrific acts of brutality and sexual assault.
“Netanyahu doesn’t want to bring the hostages back alive, we need to understand that already, we need to accept it,” Tamari said.
He later apologized and clarified “a sentence I said in an earlier broadcast that implied that the prime minister wants the hostages dead. Despite the harsh criticism I have of Netanyahu and the government, my choice of words was poor. I don’t really think he wants the hostages dead and I’m sorry for what I said,” Tamari said.
Netanyahu’s Likud party was quick to respond, slamming the reporter’s comments: “While Prime Minister Netanyahu has already released 110 of our captives and is working at this very moment to release them all, Gil Tamari on Channel 13 dares to say that the prime minster wants them dead.”
“Hamas doesn’t need a media outlet if it has Channel 13,” the Likud fumed in a statement.
The ruckus came as Israel was reportedly set to send negotiators to discuss a hostage release deal with senior US, Egyptian, and Qatari officials in Cairo this week on condition that Hamas backs down from its maximalist demands for an agreement.
As part of its response to a negotiated framework, Hamas demanded last week that Israel, among other things, release at least 1,500 Palestinian security prisoners, withdraw its troops fully from Gaza, eventually agree to a permanent ceasefire, and take steps to reduce its sovereignty on the Temple Mount — demands rejected by Netanyahu as “delusional.”
According to reports over the weekend, Israel is willing to accept talks based on the original Paris framework, an outline for a humanitarian pause in the fighting drafted last month by top officials from the US, Israel, Qatar, and Egypt. The plan reportedly envisioned a three-phase humanitarian pause, with 35 to 40 Israeli hostages — women, men older than 60 and those with serious medical conditions — released during the first six-week phase. Israeli soldiers and the bodies of killed hostages would be released in the second and third phases.
It is believed that 132 hostages abducted by Hamas on October 7 remain in Gaza — not all of them alive — after 105 civilians were released from Hamas captivity during a weeklong truce in late November. Four hostages were released prior to that, and one was rescued by troops. The bodies of eight hostages have also been recovered and three hostages were mistakenly killed by the military. One more person is listed as missing since October 7, and their fate is still unknown.