Rescuing Gaza hostages ‘not the most important,’ Smotrich says

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich said in an interview with Eran Binyamini and Igal Gueta on Kan Reshet Bet on Tuesday that the hostages are not of the utmost importance when it comes to the Israel-Hamas war. 

While the interviewer emphasized the return of the 134 hostages is of prime importance; Smotrich said, “No, that’s not the most important thing.”

He further stated, “It’s very important, but not the most important thing.”

Smotrich then clarified, “We are committed to bringing back the hostages – the only way of doing this is by defeating Hamas and applying even more military pressure; this is what brought to the previous deal.”

Rally calling for the release of hostages kidnapped in the deadly October 7 attack (credit: REUTERS/DYLAN MARTINEZ)

Officials respond to Smotrich’s comments

Head of the Opposition, Yair Lapid, said in response to Smotrich’s interview that Smotrich’s “attack on the families of the hostages is a moral disgrace. Heartless people cannot continue to lead the State of Israel to the abyss.”

He added, “Smotrich, on your watch and that of Netanyahu, 1,200 Israelis were murdered; on your watch, Israeli citizens for whose fate you were responsible were kidnapped, tortured, and raped.”

“Without the return of the abductees, Israel will not win,” Lapid concluded.

Minister-without-portfolio Benny Gantz took to X to respond to Smotrich’s comments, saying, “The return of the hostages is not only our goal in the war, it is our moral imperative as a country and a people. It is the most urgent thing. We will not miss any opportunity to bring them home.”

Smotrich later responded to the backlash in a post on X, in which he reiterated his stance, “I was asked in an interview whether the return of the hostages is not the most important thing 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 any cost will bring about the defeat of Israel in the war and will also remove the chance of returning the hostages home.”