Benjamin Netanyahu will not pay ransom for hostages held by Hamas in Gaza

Benjamin Netanyahu/ Photo EPA-EFE/ABIR SULTAN / POOL

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich said they would pay no price for the return of hostages still held by Hamas in Gaza.

Smotrich told Khan Radio that the return of the 134 hostages was "very important" but that they could not be released "at any cost".

According to him, the way to release the hostages is to increase military pressure in Gaza and defeat Hamas, reports Reuters.

Smotrich's statement drew criticism from opposition leader Yair Lapid and minister Benny Gantz, as well as anger among the families of the abductees, the British agency said.

Shortly after Smotrich's radio interview, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office issued a statement clarifying his position.

"There is great pressure on Israel at home and abroad to end the war before we achieve all of our goals, including an agreement to release the hostages at any cost." "We are not ready to pay any price, especially not the one that Hamas demands from us, which would mean the defeat of the State of Israel," Netanyahu said.

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