Israel could secure the freedom of hostages still held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip through talks or by “other means”, an Israeli official told Reuters on Friday.
Speaking in Dubai after fighting resumed in Gaza following the end of a week-long temporary ceasefire, Foreign Ministry Deputy Director General Oded Joseph said Israel remained intent on securing the release of all hostages and destroying Hamas.
During the pause in fighting, dozens of hostages were exchanged for hundreds of Palestinian prisoners and humanitarian aid was brought into the Gaza Strip.
“Naturally, we would reach a point where again we would want to find a way to make sure all our kidnapped are released,” Joseph said.
“Part of it might of be out of, sort of, discussions, but part of it could be by other means,” he said, without providing further details.
Israel accused Hamas of violating the temporary ceasefire agreement. Hamas said Israel bore responsibility for the end of the truce.
Mediators had sought to extend the truce by finding a way for hostage releases to continue, possibly to include Israeli men now that fewer women and children remained in captivity.
Joseph said destroying Hamas would mean the group was “no longer a military threat” to Israel or the region and that it would have no “political clout” in Gaza.
Gazan officials say Israel’s bombardment — retaliation for Hamas’ deadly rampage on October 7 — has killed more than 15,000 people in the enclave.
Washington has urged Israel to narrow its combat zone and avoid repeating the huge loss of civilian life and displacement of Palestinians seen during its offensive.
Describing the war as a “complicated mission”, Joseph said Israel was abiding by international law and seeking to minimise collateral damage “as much as possible”.
“We are fighting Hamas. We’re not fighting the Palestinian people. It’s also our objective to see minimum loss of life of civilians, either Israelis or Palestinians,” he said.
Joseph is in the UAE for the COP28 UN climate summit. Israeli President Isaac Herzog met the UAE President, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, there on Thursday and asked for his help in freeing the hostages.
The country has called for the hostages’ release — but it has also condemned Israel’s bombardment and invasion of Gaza.