Jerusalem will not commit to ending war until hostages released
Israeli troops during operational activity in the Gaza Strip on June 14, 2024. Credit: IDF.

Hamas has broken past deals too many times to be trusted, said a senior Israeli official.

By Joshua Marks
June 17, 2024

Jerusalem will not commit to ending the war in Gaza until Hamas releases all of the hostages held by the terrorist group, according to a senior Israeli official.

The official told the Ynet website that the captives must be freed in the first and second phases of the proposed ceasefire agreement approved by the United Nations Security Council on June 10.

The U.S.-drafted resolution is aimed at reaching a three-phase ceasefire deal to end the Israel-Hamas war in the Gaza Strip. Noting that Israel has accepted the ceasefire proposal, the resolution calls for Hamas to do the same, and for both sides to “implement its terms without delay and without condition.”

However, the official noted that “Hamas made substantial changes to dozens of items in the outline” originally presented by U.S. President Joe Biden late last month.

The terror group is demanding an end to the war and full withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza. Jerusalem’s war goals still stand—the defeat of Hamas as a military and governing power in Gaza, the return of all of the hostages and ensuring that Gaza can never again threaten Israel.

More than 250 people were abducted to Gaza during Hamas’s Oct. 7 invasion of the northwestern Negev, during which thousands more were killed and wounded, with numerous atrocities documented.

One-hundred and twenty hostages remain in Gaza, of whom 116 were abducted on Oct. 7. (the other four were captured earlier). The figure includes both living and deceased hostages.

“The mediators should focus on advancing negotiations based on the outline accepted by the U.N. Security Council and the American president,” the official said.

“There can be no negotiations over any other proposal, which Israel has already approved. The proposal includes two critical components: a ceasefire and an end to the war, and they must be agreed upon through this specific proposal.”

The official cited Hamas’s violations of past agreements as the reason Israel will not commit to ending the war prematurely.

“To ensure the agreement leads to the release of all hostages, including men and the bodies of the deceased in the second phase, leverage must be maintained on both sides,” he said.

For its part, the terror group claimed its response aligns with Biden’s proposal. “Hamas and the [Palestinian] groups are ready for a comprehensive deal that includes a ceasefire, withdrawal from Gaza, reconstruction of what was destroyed and a comprehensive swap deal,” Hamas politburo chief Ismail Haniyeh said in a televised speech on Sunday.

Meanwhile, the parents of one of the four captives rescued from Gaza by Israeli special forces on June 8 are speaking out.

In an interview with Ynet published last week, Andrey Kozlov’s parents said that the hostages suffered abuse in captivity: “They [Hamas] tied their hands, punished and used psychological terror.”

His mother Yevgenia further detailed the abuse: “Andrei told us that the abductees, for example, could not sit with their legs facing the terrorists. Their captors would punish them if they drank the wrong water or if they took it from the wrong place…They told them, ‘You are animals, you are donkeys, you are stupid, you are dirty.’ Andrey now knows these words in Arabic, he learned curses in Arabic.”

They thanked the Israel Defense Forces, Israel Security Agency and the police for the complex rescue operation, and paid tribute to Chief Inspector Arnon Zamora of the Border Police’s “Yamam” counter-terrorism unit, who was mortally wounded during the mission.

His parents also called for the struggle to release the hostages to continue: “We must release the other abductees.”

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