Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to continue the war against Hamas until the Palestinian group is eliminated entirely and Gaza poses no threat.
His comments come after Hamas reportedly rejected West Jerusalem’s offer for another week-long “humanitarian pause” in exchange for freeing 40 Israeli captives.
“We are fighting until victory. We will not stop the war until we achieve all of its goals: Completing the elimination of Hamas and releasing all of our hostages,” Netanyahu said in a video message posted on X (formerly Twitter) by his spokesman Ofir Gendelman on Thursday.
“The choice I propose to Hamas is very simple: Surrender or die,” Netanyahu added. “All Hamas terrorists, from the first to the last, are dead men walking.”
He added that after eliminating Hamas, Israel will ensure that Gaza will no longer pose a threat and that “whoever thinks we will stop is detached from reality.”
The message, in Hebrew with English subtitles, appears to have been recorded on Wednesday evening after the talks on a possible ceasefire reportedly collapsed. Citing anonymous sources, the Wall Street Journal said that Israel had offered to halt its military operations for a week in exchange for the release of hostages and allow more humanitarian aid into the Palestinian enclave.
Hamas, however, rejected the offer and insisted that any talks would require halting the offensive against Gaza first, according to the Journal.
The Palestinian group seized an estimated 240 captives during its October 7 incursion into southern Israel, which claimed the lives of an estimated 1,200 Israelis. Several have since been killed by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) during their offensive against the enclave. Around 120 are estimated to still be in Hamas captivity after some were exchanged during a week-long truce at the end of November.
Israeli forces have so far taken the northern part of Gaza and thoroughly devastated the enclave’s infrastructure. Local health authorities have estimated that more than 19,500 Palestinians have been killed over the course of the fighting.
The US has called on Netanyahu to limit civilian casualties but continued to provide Israel with military and other support. West Jerusalem has faced backlash from abroad, with the Houthis of Yemen openly siding with the Palestinians and attacking Israeli-linked shipping in the Red Sea.