Escalating Conflict in Gaza: Netanyahu Firm on Ceasefire Terms Amidst International Pressure

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu holds a press conference with Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and Cabinet Minister Benny Gantz (not pictured) in the Kirya military base in Tel Aviv , Israel , 28 October 2023.

In a conflict now entering its sixth week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has firmly rejected growing international calls for a ceasefire in Gaza, stating that Israel’s battle against Hamas militants will persist with “full force.” This stance comes amidst heightened tensions and a humanitarian crisis unfolding in Gaza, particularly around its largest hospital, Shifa.

Ceasefire Conditions

Netanyahu, in a televised address, stipulated that a ceasefire would only be considered upon the release of all 239 hostages held by militants in Gaza. Further, he asserted plans for Gaza’s demilitarization and Israel’s continued security control post-conflict, directly contradicting visions shared by the United States for the region’s future.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks to the media after participating in the so-called “2+2 Dialogue” in New Delhi, India, November 10, 2023.
Jonathan Ernst | Reuters

U.S. Stance and International Reactions

Secretary of State Antony Blinken has opposed an Israeli reoccupation of Gaza, advocating instead for a unified Palestinian government across Gaza and the West Bank. Meanwhile, a 57-nation Muslim and Arab summit in Saudi Arabia has echoed calls for an immediate end to the conflict and requested an International Court of Justice investigation into Israel’s actions.

A UN bus drives past a destroyed building following the Israeli bombardment of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on November 10, 2023, amid the ongoing battles between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. (AFP)

Humanitarian Crisis at Shifa Hospital

The situation at Shifa Hospital reached a critical point as the last generator ran out of fuel, leading to the deaths of patients, including a premature baby and a child in an incubator. Israeli military’s allegations of Hamas using hospitals as shields have been refuted by medical staff. Hospital director Mohammed Abu Selmia described the dire conditions, with Israel’s military denying a siege but acknowledging clashes nearby.

People remove the body of a child killed in Israeli bombing on Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, on November 11, 2023. (AFP)

Casualty and Displacement Toll

More than 11,070 Palestinians, predominantly women and minors, have been reported killed since the war’s onset, with about 2,700 missing and possibly trapped under rubble. Israeli casualties include at least 1,200 people, mainly from the initial Hamas attack. The conflict has also led to mass displacement, with over 150,000 civilians fleeing northern Gaza following Israeli evacuation advisories.

300,000 Protesters in London Demand Ceasefire in Gaza Conflict

Civilian Response and Continued Conflict

As Palestinian civilians and rights advocates question the safety of designated evacuation zones, large-scale demonstrations have occurred globally, including a 300,000-strong march in London. Despite international outcry and calls for humanitarian pauses, Netanyahu remains steadfast, asserting Hamas’s responsibility for civilian harm and emphasizing Israel’s goal to decisively win the conflict.

Sitting on the edges of the Israel-Hamas war is what’s been called the Axis of Resistance, a loose coalition of Iran-backed entities, including Hezbollah, Hamas and the Houthis in Yemen.

Regional Implications

The conflict has extended beyond Gaza’s borders, with Israeli and Hezbollah forces engaging along the Lebanon border. Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant warned of Hezbollah potentially drawing Lebanon into war, heightening regional tensions.