Israel will not release the body of terrorist and hunger-striker Khader Adnan as part of a ceasefire agreement with Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a senior diplomatic source said on Thursday.
The source denied reports to the contrary, that Israel agreed to give over Adnan’s body in exchange for an immediate ceasefire. Adnan died last week after conducting an over 80-day hunger strike while in Israeli custody, with the Islamic Jihad firing over 100 rockets toward Israel in response last week.
While rejecting that demand, Israel remained open to a ceasefire with Palestinian Islamic Jihad on Thursday, following an aborted attempt the evening before.
“If they stop shooting, we have no interest in continuing, but if they continue, we will crush them and strike them,” Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich told Ynet on Thursday morning.
Israel was ready for a ceasefire on Wednesday night already, with a senior diplomatic source saying at the time “we did what we needed to do.”
The Egypt-led ceasefire efforts collapsed on Wednesday evening in part due to Islamic Jihad demanding that Israel promise to stop targeted assassinations of senior terrorists, which Israel has refused to do, diplomatic sources said.
US calls to deescalate
The US emphasized calls to deescalate the tensions between Israel and Gaza on Wednesday night and Thursday.
National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi and his American counterpart Jake Sullivan spoke on the phone Tuesday night, and the White House readout said Sullivan “reaffirmed the Administration’s ironclad support for Israel’s security, as well as its right to defend its people from indiscriminate rocket attacks.”
At the same time, Sullivan “emphasized the need to deescalate tensions and prevent further loss of life” and noted ceasefire talks.”
Similarly, US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides tweeted the next morning that he is “concerned about the continuing rocket launches today. We stand by Israel’s right to defend itself. Working towards a quick deescalation.”
Cyprus President Nikos Christodulides visited Israel on Thursday and met with President Isaac Herzog as planned, despite the ongoing fighting.
Hungary released a rare statement that did not also call to deescalate or express concern about Palestinians.
“Hungary [is] deeply shocked by hundreds of rockets again fired by terrorists from Gaza Strip, deliberately targeting civilians,” Ambassador Levente Benkő tweeted in the name of the Foreign Ministry in Budapest. “We condemn all forms of terrorism, recognize Israel’s right to self-defense. [Our] full sympathies [are with] the government and people of Israel in the face of this threat.”
Dutch Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra said that "the current escalation in Israel and Gaza is deeply worrying. The Netherlands condemns all indiscriminate attacks. All sides must exercise restraint and prevent further violence and loss of civilian lives."
Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong condemned "the indiscriminate rocket fire from Gaza and respect's Israel's right to defend itself," while urging "all parties to exercise restraint and protect civilian lives."
The statement came a day after Wong expressed concern about the "tragic loss of civilian life, including children, from Israeli airstrikes...in Gaza."
Republican presidential primary candidate and former US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley tweeted that "Israel is defending itself the same way America would defend ourselves if someone was shooting missiles at us. We will always have the backs of our friends."