Minister Bezalel Smotrich
Minister Bezalel SmotrichArutz Sheva-Israel National News

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich spoke this evening (Tuesday) to Kan Reshet Bet about the negotiations for a deal to release the hostages from Hamas captivity.

"This is not the most important issue. It’s not a competition? What is important now? We must destroy Hamas. It's vital, but you also understand that saying 'at all costs' is a problem. We need to return the hostages. We need to put pressure on Hamas," Smotrich said.

He added, "All our problems started with this terrible tragedy, but we discovered strengths within ourselves, and we united. And we are thrashing Hamas. We are determined and we are winning."

During the interview, Smotrich also commented on assessments about the whereabouts of Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip, Yahya Sinwar. "The moment he realizes that he is going to live in a state of despair, he will crack. We will get to him. We will eliminate him, we will eliminate Def, we will eliminate the others. The war will not end until everybody in this terrible bunch has been killed. The IDF is putting a lot of effort into this. Sinwar is in great distress."

Smotrich later posted a tweet on X, in which he wrote: "I was asked in an interview whether the return of the hostages is not the most important issue, before destroying Hamas and winning the war. My answer is clear: only by destroying Hamas and winning the war, will we return all the hostages. Those who call for a deal at all costs will lead to Israel’s defeat at war and will prevent us from returning the hostages home."

Minister Benny Gantz said in response that "The return of the hostages is not only our main goal in the war, but also our moral obligation as a country and as a nation. It is the most urgent matter. We will not miss any opportunity to bring them home," said Gantz.

Minister and cabinet member Yifat Shasha-Biton said: "It is important to bring down Hamas, but the return of the hostages is the most urgent goal! Without the return of the hostages, there is no victory! Certainly not a 'total victory'. Anyone who does not understand this, does not know what leadership is."

Opposition leader Yair Lapid responded, "Smotrich's attack on the hostages’ families is a moral disgrace. Heartless people cannot continue to lead the State of Israel into an abyss. Smotrich, 1,200 Israelis were murdered on your and PM Netanyahu’s watch. On your watch Israeli citizens were kidnapped, tortured and raped. You are responsible for their fate. Israel will not win without returning the hostages."