Netanyahu, Hamas Spend Christmas Brushing Off Calls for Peace


Christmas is supposed to be a day of peace, especially in the Holy Land. Not this year.

Hamas and Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad rejected on Monday a proposal for a ceasefire to the fighting in Gaza, Egyptian security sources told Reuters. And Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Israeli troops in the northern Gaza Strip Monday to continue with their offensive there.

“We are not stopping,” Netanyahu said, according to an Israeli government statement. “Whoever talks about stopping – there is no such thing. We are not stopping. The war will continue until the end, until we finish it, no less.”

Egyptian mediators held individual talks with Hamas and Islamic Jihad, according to two Egyptian security sources who spoke to Reuters, and proposed a loose “vision,” that would allow a ceasefire in response to the release of more hostages. In addition, the proposal involved a permanent ceasefire along with an “overhaul of leadership in Gaza,” Reuters reported.

Officials from Hamas and Islamic Jihad denied what the Egyptian sources said, Reuters reported. 

“The Hamas leadership is aiming with all its might for a complete, not temporary, end to the aggression and massacres of our people,” said Izzat al-Rishq, a member of Hamas’ political bureau, to Reuters. 

The fighting has turned the city of Bethlehem — ordinarily packed with tourists during the Christmas season — into a ghost town this year. Local leaders last month decided to scale back on holiday festivities at the Biblical city to show solidarity with Palestinian people.

Meanwhile, the world continues to debate the Israeli military’s attack on the Gaza Strip’s main hospital, al-Shifa, resulting in dozens of deaths. State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller shared in a press briefing Dec. 18 that U.S. remains “confident,” that “Hamas was using al-Shifa as a command and control post, as it uses other civilian sites to hide terrorist infrastructure, to hide weapons, to hide fighters and ultimately to use civilians as human shields.” There’s little evidence that tunnels under al-Shifa led to a Hamas command center, according to an analysis by The Washington Post.

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the World Health Organization, called for a ceasefire in a Twitter (X) statement Dec. 20, “More than ever, a humanitarian ceasefire is needed now to reinforce and restock remaining health facilities, [to] deliver medical services needed by thousands of injured people and those needing other essential care, and, above all, to stop the bloodshed and death.”


Since Hamas’ surprise attacks which slayed 1,200 Israelis and kidnapped 240 more on Oct. 7, Israeli counterattacks have killed an estimated 20,000 Palestinians. More than 100 hostages are still believed to be held in Gaza, Reuters reported.

“After the aggression is stopped and the aid increased we are ready to discuss prisoner swaps,” a Hamas official told Reuters.

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