Israel is ready for a temporary ceasefire in Gaza in order to return the 239 hostages held by Hamas, Israeli minister and member of the security cabinet Gideon Sa’ar told Jewish News in an exclusive interview.
Sa’ar, who is a member of Benny Gantz’s National Unity Party, said Israeli forces “continue to execute their mission, killing terrorists and dismantling Hamas infrastructure in Gaza,” calling it “significant achievements”, by the IDF.
The army, he said, “acted in the right moment” when they launched a smaller operation in Al Shifa hospital, which is used by Hamas for military purposes, according to Israel and the US. “They waited for long days outside the hospital to avoid casualties,” Sa’ar said.
When asked about the growing calls for a ceasefire in Gaza, the minister said there would be no long-term ceasefire but that rather “a temporary short ceasefire in order to get our hostages out. There are ongoing negotiations to achieve that. And it will be acheived. We will see a temporary ceasefire.”
As for Israel’s long-term plans for Gaza, he said it’s a very “complicated issue” but that the most important thing is “to achieve security”.
The next goal, he said, is the reconstruction of Gaza, followed by efforts to avoid further incitement of Jews in education for Palestinian children.
“That was a significant part of the education there, if we can even call it that. The most important thing is to create a different reality there and it begins with educating a new generation,” Sa’ar said.
“We will need partnership of moderate Arab regimes in order to create a different reality. It could be Egypt and maybe Saudi Arabia. It’s important to have Arab partners,” he added.
The United Nations, which for years has provided education for children throughout Gaza, should not play a role in the future, Sa’ar said.
“I cannot see a constructive part with the UN. Personally, I don’t see how they can help.” Sa’ar also said that the UN should follow in the footsteps of the US and EU, and back Israel’s claims about Hamas using hospitals as human shields, but that he “low expectations of the UN.”
On the northern front, Israel continues to be attacked by Hezbollah with anti-tank missiles and rockets on a daily basis, causing many experts to speculate that it’s a matter of time before it escalates in to a full scale war.
However, Israel is not interested in that right now, according to Sa’ar.
“The security cabinet defined that the objective of the war is to defeat Hamas. At the same time we respond to strongly to each attack in the north and will prepare for anything that might happen. We might reach a war. But it’s not our objective right now,” he said.