Israel to Hamas: No Cease Fire -- Surrender Unconditionally or Die

AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner

“This machine cannot be stopped,” declared Israeli defense minister Yoav Gallant earlier today. At the very least, Israel will not stop the IDF, now fully unleashed in Gaza, short of total victory. Instead, Gallant offered Hamas a different deal, which sounds remarkably like Hamas’ true ‘offer’ to the Israelis.


“Die or surrender” sums both up nicely, no?

This is the same ‘deal’ that Hamas, Hezbollah, and Iran have offered Israel for decades. It’s the same deal that the other Arab nations offered between 1947 and roughly 1979, too. For the last sixteen years, Israel has hoped that withdrawal from Gaza might moderate those enemies similarly as Egypt and Jordan moderated their own stances toward their existence. October 7 finally proved that Hamas and Iran have no intention of deflecting from their extermination goals when it comes to Israel and the Jews.

In other words, the Israelis have finally and fully internalized the existential threat Hamas represents to their country and to Jews everywhere. So does Benjamin Netanyahu, who sent a similar message to world leaders and foreign media this afternoon as well. Calls for a “cease fire” constitutes a surrender, and Israel will no longer play along with Hamas annihilationists:

“Israel will not agree to a cessation of hostilities after the horrific attacks of October 7,” says Netanyahu in comments in English to the foreign media. “Calls for a ceasefire are a call for Israel to surrender to Hamas, to surrender to terror, to surrender to barbarism. That will not happen.”

Netanyahu says nobody would have called on the US to agree to a ceasefire following the Pearl Harbor attack during World War II.

The prime minister says there must be a “moral distinction between the deliberate murder of the innocent, and the unintentional kind of casualties that accompany every legitimate war,” in comments on the death toll of Palestinians in Gaza.


CNN also reports that Netanyahu declared, “This is a time for war,” referencing Ecclesiastes. Indeed, and let’s emphasize that Israel did not choose it as such. Hamas chose this as a time of war by engaging in a barbaric, murderous rampage through Israel’s civilian population on October 7, resulting in death totals that would equate to the loss of 50,000 lives in proportion to the American population. Having chosen this as a time of war with their grotesque barbarity and clear intention to keep committing atrocities as long as Israel exists, Netanyahu has simply acknowledged the reality of their existential war and refuses to let them off the hook for its consequences.

The IDF has already responded to the cease-fire demand Hamas transmitted in its hostage video. They have alerted Gazans to either get the hell out of the way or suffer the consequences:

Israeli aircraft have dropped new leaflets in Arabic over Gaza, warning people in northern and central parts of the strip that “the governorate of Gaza has become a battlefield.”

“Shelters in the north of the Gaza Strip and the governorate of Gaza have become unsafe,” according to the leaflet, an image of which has been seen by CNN.

“Hamas and the terrorist organizations are using the shelters, hospitals and schools in this area. Therefore, your presence in these places is not safe,” the flier continued.

“You must immediately evacuate and move to the humanitarian area to the south of Wadi Gaza,” the leaflet concluded, referring to a waterway that bisects the enclave.


The reference to “hospitals” is likely no accident of rhetorical completeness. Israel (and everyone in the media) has known for years that Hamas makes its headquarters in al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City. Until now, the IDF has made it off-limits for air strikes, and as John wrote on Friday, it has been too reinforced with urban-combat engineering for a commando raid to neutralize while leaving the hospital intact.

Before 10/7, the diplomatic repercussions of demolishing a hospital — even one openly housing a military HQ and therefore a legitimate target — were considered too costly for Israel. This time is different, clearly. The IDF began warning people to leave al-Shifa almost immediately after the 10/7 attack, and then made a point to outline Hamas’ command infrastructure in the compound last week:

Now they’re dropping leaflets in Arabic all around Gaza City warning that “hospitals” are open targets when Hamas operates out of them. All of this signals that the IDF will not bother with a frontal assault on al-Shifa, but rather drop bunker-busting ordnance on the points specified in Friday’s briefing to collapse the structures, potentially into the nexus of Hamas’ tunnel system in a decisive move to neutralize their underground capabilities.

Would that be a “disproportionate” measure in war? Not at all, considering Hamas’ use of these facilities as terrorism command centers. That makes al-Shifa a target of military necessity, especially in a war that Hamas started, and three weeks of warnings to evacuate satisfies the issues of proportionality as properly defined:


The principle of military necessity is, like the related principle of proportionality, an essential component of international humanitarian law.

The “principle of military necessity” permits measures which are actually necessary to accomplish a legitimate military purpose and are not otherwise prohibited by international humanitarian law. In the case of an armed conflict the only legitimate military purpose is to weaken the military capacity of the other parties to the conflict.

Any issue with targeting this hospital belongs with Hamas, which has made its command HQ in al-Shifa for more than a decade. There are few targets more militarily necessary than an enemy command center, after all. If civilians die in such an attack, the moral and legal responsibility lies with the combatant that chose to co-locate within civilian infrastructure.

I’d bet that Netanyahu and Gallant have already made this point clear with the US and other allies. The “surrender or die” message today sounds like a last chance for Gazans to avoid the consequences of the war Hamas started with Israel. The question isn’t whether the IDF takes out this command-and-control center, but when and how. That’s the meaning of today’s declarations from Israel.

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