Hanegbi: Even if we agree to ceasefire for ‘massive’ release of hostages, it’ll be limited and short

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US bureau chief

IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi (center) is seen in the Gaza Strip, November 16, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)
IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi (center) is seen in the Gaza Strip, November 16, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)

National Security Council chairman Tzachi Hanegbi says during a press conference that Israel will only agree to a ceasefire in exchange for the release of a “massive” number of hostages, and not a “manipulative release” done by Hamas for PR purposes.

“Only then will we agree to a ceasefire and it will be very limited and short because afterward we will continue advancing toward our goals for the war,” Hanegbi says.

The National Security Council chairman says the war cabinet is united in its strategy for advancing the release of the hostages, indicating that the ministers believe it will only happen if Hamas feels squeezed and under pressure, rejecting the claim of Qatari mediators that the IDF’s ground incursion complicates the talks.

Hanegbi says that in conversations with US President Joe Biden and other world leaders, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has withstood calls for Israel to agree to ceasefires and humanitarian pauses without a release of hostages.

“We’re in the 42nd day of the war, and we have not agreed to order the IDF to halt its advancement even for one minute,” Hanegbi claims.

Israel has, however, agreed to four-hour humanitarian pauses in different neighborhoods in northern Gaza each day to allow Palestinians to flee south through humanitarian corridors established by the IDF.

Hanegbi says after two pairs of hostages were released on October 20 and 22, there was a proposal to release 10 hostages — eight of whom were Thai workers — as well as a proposal to release 15 hostages.

However, these were rejected by Netanyahu and the war cabinet, Hanegbi says, adding that Israel will not agree to a temporary ceasefire for such a small number of hostages while some 240 remain in Gaza.

There are “no compromises” on this matter, Hanegbi says.

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