How Israel has repeatedly rejected Hamas truce offers

Israel and its Western allies have long dismissed the Gaza-based Palestinian armed group and political movement, Hamas, as illegitimate and have refused to engage with it, labelling it as a “terrorist organisation”.

This narrative has become ever more apparent since October 7, when Hamas launched an attack just outside the besieged Gaza Strip on Israeli territory, killing some 1,140 people, Israeli officials said.

Israel launched a brutal military campaign on the Gaza Strip as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has equated Hamas with ISIL (ISIS) and Nazis, pledged to “eradicate” the Palestinian group in the wake of the October 7 attacks.

More than 25,000 Palestinians have been killed and 90 percent of Gaza’s 2.3 million population has been displaced in one of the most violent military assaults in modern history, which many have labelled as “genocide”. South Africa has taken Israel to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on charges of genocide.

Since October 7, Israel has described Hamas as an existential threat. It has argued that it needs to destroy the group.

Yet, in 2017, Hamas revised its original 1988 charter to recognise, in effect, a two-state solution — and therefore the existence of Israel as a legitimate entity. This, even as Israel insists it can no longer allow Hamas to exist, and as Israeli politicians, led by Netanyahu, have ruled out a two-state solution.

On Sunday, Netanyahu rejected a Hamas proposal to end the war and release more than 100 captives held by the group, in exchange for a withdrawal of Israeli forces, the release of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails and recognition of Hamas governance over Gaza.

A look into the history of Hamas — among Palestine’s most popular resistance fronts — suggests that its political leadership has, over the years, proposed numerous long-term truces or ceasefires to Israel in exchange for the realisation of a sovereign independent Palestinian state.

Israel has rejected those offers, arguing that Hamas could not be trusted to adhere to any long-term ceasefire, and insisting that the proposals for short-term pauses in fighting were insincere and strategically aimed only at helping the armed movement regroup from losses.

Sunday was only the latest instance of Israel rebuffing those offers.

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