More than 25,000 Palestinians have been killed by Israel in its genocidal campaign since October 7, with the injured tallying up to over 62,000.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dismissed the conditions laid out by Hamas for ceasing hostilities in Gaza and releasing captives on Sunday.
This development comes as Israel persists in their bombardment of Khan Younis, located in the southern part of the Gaza Strip.
Sami Abu Zuhri, a senior figure within Hamas, told Reuters that Netanyahu’s refusal to halt the military operations in Gaza eliminates any possibility of the Israeli captives’ return.
“In exchange for the release of our hostages, Hamas demands the end of the war, the withdrawal of our forces from Gaza, the release of all the murderers and rapists,” Netanyahu stated. “And leaving Hamas intact.”
The Israeli leader expressed an unequivocal rejection of what he termed as the “terms of surrender” proposed by Hamas, referring to them as “monsters.”
A humanitarian pause in November, orchestrated by Qatar, the U.S., and Egypt, led to the release of over 100 hostages from an estimated 240 initially captured by Hamas on October 7.
This exchange was in return for the release of 240 Palestinian women and children from Israeli custody. Since this agreement, Netanyahu has been under escalating pressure to ensure the release of the remaining 136 hostages.
The Israeli military campaign has killed over 25,000 Palestinians, with concerns mounting about the increasing death toll due to disease and famine exacerbated by the destruction and Israel’s intentional starvation of the population of Gaza.
These circumstances have led to allegations against Israel for perpetrating war crimes and genocide through their relentless military assault and the war crimes committed in the territory.
Netanyahu has also recently hardened his stance on Palestinian statehood, categorically dismissing the notion.
“I will not compromise on full Israeli security control of all territory west of the Jordan River,” he said. This declaration was reiterated following a discussion with U.S. President Joe Biden, who proposed potential pathways towards establishing an independent Palestinian state, including the option of a non-militarised government.
Netanyahu, in his Sunday statement, reaffirmed his position on maintaining “full Israeli security control over all the territory west of Jordan.”
He acknowledged the “international and internal pressures” faced but maintained that his steadfastness has been pivotal in preventing the formation of a Palestinian state, which he believes would pose an existential threat to Israel.