Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected a new deal from Hamas proposing a 4.5 month ceasefire in Gaza, saying that “total victory” is within reach.
Netanyahu made his remarks in a press conference on Wednesday Feb. 7, a day after Hamas proposed a three-stage truce process in a response to a ceasefire deal proposed by Israel and the US through Qatari and Egyptian mediators.
Hamas’ plan consists of three stages lasting 45 days each and would see the release of all Israeli hostages and Palestinians held in Israeli jails, Israel withdrawing its troops from Gaza and an agreement to end the war.
In the first stage, Hamas will release Israeli hostages who are women, men under 19 and not part of the Israeli army, the elderly and sick in return for Israel releasing 1,500 Palestinians held in Israeli jails, including all women, children and elderly.
Hamas is also proposing Israel allow at least 500 humanitarian aid and fuel trucks to be allowed into Gaza daily, according to Al Jazeera, which has seen a copy of the proposal.
In the second stage, Hamas will release all remaining male Israeli hostages in return for Israeli troops withdrawing from all areas of Gaza.
During this time, more humanitarian aid will be allowed into Gaza while reconstruction begins and both sides agree to the requirements for a “complete truce” and a return to “a state of calm”.
In the third and final stage, Hamas is proposing both sides release any bodies and remains as humanitarian aid continue.s
However, Netanyahu has rejected the proposal, saying that “only a total victory will allow us to restore security in Israel.”
“If Hamas survives in Gaza, it is only a matter of time until the next massacre and the axis of evil of Iran and its proxies will continue its campaign of killing and aggression without interruption,” he said.
He stressed that total victory could be reached within months, saying that Israel’s military had killed or wounded about 20,000 Hamas fighters, which he said is half of Hamas’ fighting force.
He also said that Israeli forces had entered Khan Yunis in the south of Gaza and confirmed that they were getting to ready to enter Rafah at the border with Egypt, which he said were all strongholds of Hamas.
Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians are currently packed into Khan Yunis and Rafah – which Israel previously called “safe” – having fled there to escape from the fighting.
Israel’s airstrikes and ground offensive have killed more than 27,500 Palestinians, mostly women and children, since the war began on Oct. 7.
On Jan. 24, the International Court of Justice found that there was a “plausible” case of Israel committing genocide in Gaza and called on Israel to take all measures to prevent genocide.
In response, Israel accused 12 United Nations workers in Gaza of being linked to Hamas, leading multiple western countries to withdraw funding to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, the main humanitarian organization in Gaza and the only one that has been allowed into Gaza to deliver aid since Oct. 7.
During a seven-day truce in November, Hamas released 110 Israeli and foreign hostages out of the about 230 people it abducted on Oct. 7, while Israel released 240 Palestinian women and children it was holding.