On Friday evening, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, in a national address, that he had declined the Biden administration’s appeal for a temporary cessation of fighting in the Gaza Strip.
Netanyahu mentioned that earlier in the day, he had a meeting with Secretary of State Antony Blinken and presented him with footage of the Hamas attack on Israel that occurred on October 7.
The Israeli prime minister said, “I conveyed to him that we are continuing with all our might. Israel refuses a temporary ceasefire that does not include the liberation of our hostages. Israel will not allow fuel into the Gaza Strip and opposes the transfer of money into the Strip.”
President Joe Biden and the White House have requested a “pause” in hostilities, supposedly to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian assistance to the Gaza Strip and to create an opportunity for Hamas to release some of the 241 individuals it is believed to be holding as hostages.
Nevertheless, humanitarian aid is still entering Gaza from the South, even as conflict persists in the northern regions.
Hamas has not made any commitment to releasing hostages if the fighting halts. Their sole condition for releasing hostages is in exchange for all Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, which includes individuals responsible for the October 7 attacks.
Biden’s “pause” is likely aimed at domestic considerations as he seeks to maintain the support of Arab- and Muslim-American voters, particularly in the crucial swing state of Michigan.
In this context, the term “pause” may not translate well into Hebrew and could be interpreted as “ceasefire.” Israel has previously entered into several ceasefire agreements with Hamas, all of which allowed Hamas to maintain control over Gaza and all of which were subsequently violated by Hamas.
Netanyahu emphasized to the Israeli people that Hamas’ ultimate objective is the destruction of the state of Israel and pledged that he would never permit it to happen. He declared that the Israel Defense Forces would continue fighting until Hamas was defeated.
Furthermore, he issued a stern warning to Israel’s adversaries to the north, particularly Iranian-backed Hezbollah in Lebanon, cautioning them that they would face severe consequences if they intervened in the ongoing conflict.
Joe Biden’s call for a “pause” is not merciful—it will only allow Hamas more time to plot attacks against Israel. https://t.co/7a5zsOnhy8
— Tom Cotton (@SenTomCotton) November 2, 2023