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Israel won’t end war for deal to free all hostages, PM’s aide said to tell families

National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi reportedly said Thursday that the current government will not agree to end its war against Hamas in exchange for the release of all the remaining hostages held by the terror group.

  • The message — made during a heated meeting during which Hanegbi reportedly rebuked and insulted the relatives of several hostages, appeared to be the first time a top Israeli official was quoted making such an admission.

It highlighted the crux of the repeated impasse in the hostage negotiations where Hamas has insisted on a permanent ceasefire, while Israel has only been willing to agree to a temporary truce.

  • Hanegbi clarified that he did think the government would be able to achieve the first phase of the deal currently on the table that would see female, elderly and wounded hostages released, according to transcripts from the sit-down leaked to Channel 12. Those categories are believed to amount to up to 33 of the 121 remaining hostages.
  • The second and third stages would see Hamas free the remaining hostages — men and soldiers — followed by the bodies of those killed in captivity. The IDF has confirmed the deaths of 37 of those still held by Hamas. During the latter two phases, the mediators envision Israel agreeing to negotiate a permanent end to the fighting — a step Israel has not indicated it is prepared to take without Hamas’s defeat.

Hanegbi’s comments indicated that the government believes Hamas will refuse to release the rest of the hostages unless Israel agrees to end the war.

  1. The terror group harshened its demands on Thursday when it said it informed mediators that it would only return to negotiations for a hostage deal if Israel ceased all its operations in the Gaza Strip.

  • The terror group said in a statement that it is ready to reach “a complete agreement” with Israel, including for the release of all the hostages in exchange for Palestinian security prisoners, but will only do so if Israel “stops its war and aggression against people in Gaza.”

In his meeting with the hostages’ relatives, Hanegbi assured them that Israel would secure implementation of the deal’s first phase within a few short months.

  • “It won’t take many months and not years,” the transcripts leaked to Channel 12 quoted him as having said.
  • However, he added, “I don’t believe that this government will succeed in completing the entire deal. This government will not take a decision to stop the war for the return of all the hostages.”
  • “We have to keep fighting so that there won’t be another October 7 in October 2027,” Hanegbi said.
  • “If the hostages don’t return within weeks or a few short months, we have no alternate plan,” he acknowledged. “We will continue to fight in Gaza and in the north, and only then will we reassess.”
  • In response, one of the participants reportedly said, “Well, then we’re lost.”
  • Hanegbi replied, “That’s correct.”

One of the participants would go on to raise recent reports that public funds had been allocated for the renovation of the swimming pool in Netanyahu’s private home, saying such spending should not be made in the middle of the war.

  • Hanegbi didn’t take the remark well. “He can build 10 pools with his money if he wants. What an abhorrent thing to say,” he shot back, adding that this was not the right forum to raise such qualms and accusing the woman of exuding hatred.
  • The relative responded: “I have every right to feel pain and hate because I was in the safe room [of my home] for 15 hours [during the Hamas onsalught]. I fled from the terrorists and had to step on dead bodies. You didn’t.”
  • To which Hanegbi reportedly responded, “Okay, go ahead then. Curse me.”

  • At this point, the woman left the room in tears, Channel 12 reported. Another female participant then headed angrily toward the door, leading Hanegbi to say, “You’re also going to make a scene and slam the door after you?”

Channel 12 said it cross-checked the quotes with members of five different families and added that Hangebi did not deny them.

  • Responding to the report, Hanegbi told Channel 12 that he “has met with the families of all hostages who seek to consult with him since the beginning of the war. He does not record these conversations and does not disseminate their contents. This is how to appropriately hold an open dialog between the political echelon and the families in pain.”
  • “I won’t change that practice, even in the wake of today’s meeting. Israel is obligated to achieve the release of all the hostages and will do so,” he added.

Jabaliya tunnel demolition, Netanyahu-Gallant meeting

With the government under pressure to reach a deal, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group released a second propaganda video showing hostage Alexander (Sasha) Trufanov, 30, after publishing a short video earlier this week, on Tuesday.

Also on Thursday, the IDF said it demolished a Hamas tunnel network in northern Gaza’s Jabaliya, from which the bodies of seven hostages were recovered earlier this month.

At this point, the woman left the room in tears, Channel 12 reported. Another female participant then headed angrily toward the door, leading Hanegbi to say, “You’re also going to make a scene and slam the door after you?”

Channel 12 said it cross-checked the quotes with members of five different families and added that Hangebi did not deny them.

Jabaliya tunnel demolition, Netanyahu-Gallant meeting

Also on Thursday, the IDF said it demolished a Hamas tunnel network in northern Gaza’s Jabaliya, from which the bodies of seven hostages were recovered earlier this month.

The bodies of Ron Benjamin, Itzhak Gelerenter, Amit Buskila, and Shani Louk were recovered on May 17, and the bodies of Orión Hernández Radoux, Hanan Yablonka and Michel Nisenbaum were recovered on May 23. All seven were murdered by Hamas terrorists on October 7 and their bodies were kidnapped to Gaza, according to the IDF.

The tunnel was demolished using engineering vehicles, mines, and other “technological means” by the elite Yahalom combat engineering unit after the IDF ruled out the possibility of any more hostages being held in the area, the military adds.

  • Meanwhile, Netanyahu met in person with Defense Minister Yoav Gallant for the first time since Gallant publicly called for Netanyahu to make “tough decisions” on post-war Gaza two weeks ago, Ynet reported.

The two met at the Kirya military headquarters in Tel Aviv ahead of scheduled war cabinet and security cabinet meetings. The war cabinet was set to discuss who will govern Gaza after the war, according to Hebrew media reports.

  • Unnamed associates of Netanyahu told the Walla news site the prime minister was expected to reprimand Gallant for his public speech, urging Netanyahu to rule out Israeli civil or military control of the Gaza Strip and to make plans for Palestinians without ties to Hamas to rule the enclave when operations are over.

The meeting also came after Minister Benny Gantz’s National Unity party submitted a bill to dissolve the Knesset, ahead of his party’s expected departure from the emergency coalition it joined at the start of the war with Hamas.

Netanyahu, Gantz, and Gallant are the only three voting members of the war cabinet.

Source: TOI