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Another ceasefire with Hamas still possible — Israel’s envoy to Moscow

"If, for example, Hamas releases all hostages and chooses not to engage in military efforts anymore, there will be something for us to discuss," Alexander Ben Zvi said

MOSCOW, December 6. /TASS/. The resumption of a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas is still possible, but the military operation will continue until the movement’s members give up their military efforts, Israeli Ambassador to Russia Alexander Ben Zvi has told TASS.

When asked whether another ceasefire between Israel and Hamas is possible in the near-term perspective, the Israeli diplomat replied that it is "always possible."

"But it should be understood what their plans are," Ben Zvi continued. "If, for example, Hamas releases all hostages and chooses not to engage in military efforts anymore, there will be something for us to discuss. So far, regrettably, they [Hamas] are rejecting this option. The military operation will continue until they understand that this is not the best choice for them.".

Therefore, he continued, Israel’s actions would mirror those of Hamas.

"If they want to shoot - we will shoot, too. But if they want to return their hostages, there will always be an option for them to do so via the mediators - Egypt, Qatar and so on. This is possible," the ambassador went on. "However, there are no signs indicating they want to agree to something. They have already had an opportunity to do so."

He reiterated that the previous ceasefire agreement remained in force as long as Hamas honored the terms of the deal.

"We are not the ones to be asked about this [the possibility of a ceasefire]. We said that we were ready to proceed and release women, children and the elderly in accordance with this formula. There are some people who are 75 years or older," he said.

The ambassador added that his country’s military operation is aimed at achieving two main goals.

"The first one is to free all hostages. The second is, of course, to destroy all terror structures of Hamas. This will be achieved by military means," he said.

Tensions flared up again in the Middle East on October 7 after militants from the Gaza Strip-based radical Palestinian group Hamas launched a surprise incursion on Israeli territory, killing many Israeli kibbutz residents living near the Gaza border and abducting more than 200 Israelis, including women, children and the elderly. Hamas described its attack as a response to Israeli authorities’ aggressive actions against the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem’s Old City. Israel declared a total blockade of the Gaza Strip and launched bombardments of the enclave and some areas in Lebanon and Syria, as well as a ground operation against Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Clashes are also reported in the West Bank.

The sides extended the ceasefire several times but on the morning of December 1 the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said that Hamas had violated the truce in Gaza and opened fire on Israeli territory, thus prompting the IDF to resume combat operations in the Gaza Strip. The Palestinian authorities placed the blame for the resumed hostilities on the United States.