Is the Gaza peace proposal coming apart even before it has crystallised? In his seventh visit to Israel since the October 7 terrorist attacks by Hamas, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met the top Israeli leadership. The US wants a pause to the offensive in Gaza while accepting that the carnage unleashed by Hamas on Israeli soil four months ago was de-human.
“But that cannot be a licence to dehumanize others. The overwhelming majority of people in Gaza had nothing to do with the attacks of October 7th, and the families in Gaza whose survival depends on deliveries of aid from Israel are just like our families,” Blinken told reporters.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called the ceasefire proposal put forth by Hamas delusional. He was quite categorical in spelling out his intent. “Peace and security require total victory over Hamas. We cannot accept anything else. Can you imagine what will happen if we don’t have total victory? Hamas leaders have already pledged they’ll repeat the October 7 massacre over and over again. No nation can accept that. We certainly won’t.”
Total victory is within our reach, asserted Netanyahu as he recounted what Israel defence forces (IDF) have achieved so far in Gaza. “In four months, the IDF has killed, wounded or captured over 20,000 terrorists, more than half of Hamas’ fighting force. We’ve shattered 18 out of 24 Hamas battalions and we’re mopping up the remaining terrorists, our soldiers are systematically destroying the massive underground terror tunnels Hamas believed was an impregnable network,” Netanyahu said in a televised address. He also mentioned how the international community had warned them against a ground offensive as it would not be effective but “we proved them wrong”.
Meanwhile, Israel has largely evacuated civilians from towns close to the northern border with Lebanon to save them from cross-border attacks by Hezbollah, which is backed by Iran.
On Monday, Jordan’s King Abdullah will meet US President Joe Biden at the White House; they will discuss the situation in Gaza and what can be done to deal with the humanitarian crisis.
But Benjamin Netanyahu is clear that he won’t budge till ‘total victory’.