Israeli minister says won't commit to bringing all captives home alive

Israel's extremist finance minister has told the families of captives held in Gaza that he cannot commit to bringing them all back alive, local media reported. (Photo/Reuters)

Israel's extremist finance minister has told the families of captives held in Gaza that he cannot commit to bringing them all back alive, local media reported.

Bezalel Smotrich made the remarks in a meeting with the families of the hostages last Monday, the Israel Hayom newspaper reported.

The discussion dealt with "the operational activity in Gaza and the dilemmas surrounding the release of their loved ones," it said.

In a leaked recording of the meeting published by the newspaper, Smotrich was heard saying to the families: "I cannot commit to bringing all captives home alive."

"I cannot promise that to you. I am saying it as it is — I cannot commit. I'm not looking at anyone and telling him 'I'll bring your son back alive,'" he said. ​​​​​​​

"I can say that I will do everything to bring him back. I will do my utmost to the best of my judgment and conscience in a way that will best serve the prospect of returning him, but I will be chiefly looking out for the good of Israel and the Jewish people, our security and existence many years ahead."

Smotrich, head of the ultranationalist Religious Zionism party that is part of the ruling far-right coalition, has called for ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in Gaza, wants illegal Zionist settlements in Gaza and opposes ceasefire or peace talks.

Pressure on far-right govt

In recent weeks, Israelis have increased pressure on the far-right government through protests to negotiate a hostage swap and ceasefire in Gaza with the Palestinian resistance group Hamas.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday there is an Israeli offer to reach an agreement with the Palestinian factions in Gaza, without disclosing its details.

Negotiations are taking place through Qatar and Egypt, according to the Israeli Broadcasting Authority.

Hamas has not officially commented on the Israeli offer.

Israel estimates that there are approximately 136 hostages still held in Gaza, according to media reports and statements from Israeli officials.

Israel has killed 25,700 Palestinians so far and wounded 63,740 others in its brutal war on besieged Gaza since October 7 Hamas blitz. The Israeli death toll in the Hamas raid stands at around 1,140, which was revised from 1,400.

More than 90 percent of Palestinians have been uprooted by Israeli invasion and the United Nations says more than half a million people in Gaza — a quarter of the population — are starving.

Al Aqsa Flood

Hamas says its Operation Al Aqsa Flood on October 7 — a multi-pronged surprise raid that included a barrage of rocket launches and infiltrations into Israel by land, sea and air — was in retaliation for the storming of the Al Aqsa Mosque, growing violence by illegal Israeli settlers, and consistent raids on Palestinians in the occupied West Bank.

Before the start of the fight, 2023 was considered the deadliest year for Palestinians that didn't involve major clashes between the two sides.

Israeli far-right leaders says the fighting will continue until Hamas resistance group is crushed, and argue that only military action can win the release of some 130 captives held in Gaza by Palestinian fighters.

But commentators and analysts have begun to question whether their objectives are realistic, given the war entering its 111th day, Palestinian fighters giving tough resistance to invading forces and growing international criticism, including genocide accusations against Tel Aviv at the United Nations World Court.

Israel unilaterally withdrew the last of its troops and illegal Zionist settlers from Gaza in 2005, ending its presence inside the Palestinian territory that began in 1967 but maintaining complete control over the territory's borders.

Israel imposed a land, sea and air blockade on the territory in 2007 after Hamas was elected into power. Israel is still regarded internationally as an occupying power in Gaza.


Source: TRT