Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told US media Sunday a deal could be afoot to free hostages being held in the Gaza Strip, but declined to provide details for fear of scuttling the potential plan.
“We heard that there was an impending deal of this kind or of that kind and then we learned that it was all hokum. But the minute we started the ground operation, that began to change,” Netanyahu told NBC show “Meet the Press.”
Asked whether there is a potential deal to free more of the hostages being held by Hamas militants, Netanyahu replied: “There could be.”
But the leader stopped short of providing specifics about any plan that might be coming together to free some or all of the 239 hostages that Israel says are being held captive.
“I think the less I say about it, the more I’ll increase the chances that it materializes,” he said.
A source close to Hamas said this week that negotiations have occurred over a possible three-day ceasefire in exchange for the release of a dozen hostages, including six Americans, held by the Islamists, but Netanyahu has flatly rejected calls for a ceasefire in Gaza without the release of the hostages.
In a series of appearances on US Sunday talk shows, the prime minister sought to make clear Israel was doing everything it can, “around the clock,” in order to rescue those held captive.
“This is one of our two war goals,” he said: “One is to destroy Hamas, and the second is to bring back our hostages.”
Asked on CNN whether he agrees with the US position that an extended pause in Gaza fighting is needed in order to get the hostages released safely, Netanyahu said: “We don’t disagree with that. We need to get our hostages out.”