Photo Credit: GPO / Haim Zach
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on October 12, 2023

Israel will not agree to a humanitarian pause – a temporary ceasefire – until the 241 hostages being held in Gaza by Hamas are released, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Friday during a televised statement.


“I made clear that we are continuing full force, and that Israel refuses a temporary ceasefire which does not include the release of our hostages,” Netanyahu said in a Hebrew-language statement following his meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Blinken said at a separate news conference following the meeting that he reiterated to the prime minister, President Isaac Herzog and to Israel’s security cabinet that the United States supports Israel’s right to defend itself, “indeed its obligation to defend itself.”

Blinken commented that he found it “striking and in some ways shocking that the brutality of the slaughter has receded so quickly in the memories of so many. But not in Israel, and not in America.” He noted that 35 American citizens were murdered on October 7 in addition to more than 200 foreign nationals from 35 countries.

Nevertheless, the Secretary attempted to pressure Israel into allowing a temporary ceasefire with Hamas for “humanitarian aid” to enter Gaza.

“We need to do more to protect Palestinian civilians,” Blinken said. “We’ve been clear that as Israel conducts its campaign to defeat Hamas, how it does so matters. It matters because it’s the right and lawful thing to do. It matters because failure to do so plays into the hands of Hamas and other terror groups.

There will be no partners for peace if they’re consumed by humanitarian catastrophe and alienated by any perceived indifference to their plight . . . I’ve seen images too of Palestinian children, young boys and girls, pulled from the wreckage of buildings. When I see that, when I look into their eyes through the TV screen, I see my own children. How can we not?” Blinken said.

“We need to substantially and immediately increase the sustained flow of humanitarian assistance into Gaza and getting American citizens and other foreign nationals out of Gaza,” he said.

However, Hamas is presenting the only obstacle to the entry of trucks filled with supplies via the Rafah crossing with Egypt.

Likewise, Hamas shelled IDF soldiers and Gazans alike on Saturday when IDF troops opened a three-hour humanitarian corridor via the main north-south highway in Gaza to allow those in the northern section of the enclave to escape the combat zone and travel to the south.

Both Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant have also repeatedly stated that no fuel will be allowed into Gaza. The IDF on Friday released evidence – in a recorded phone call between hospital officials and Gazans – proving that Hamas has stockpiled at least half a million liters of fuel, and possibly up to a million liters, under Shifa Hospital and in other areas around the enclave.

Although Gazan civilians may not have fuel for their homes and vehicles, there is no lack of fuel in the enclave: it has simply been seized by Hamas for its military effort to annihilate Israel.

To read a transcript of Secretary Blinken’s full remarks, click here.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for, and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.