Eylon Levy said the conflict “has to end with the end of Hamas”.
His comments came after the Israeli war cabinet agreed to a four-day pause in the war to allow Hamas to release at least 50 of the 240 hostages they have held since October 7.
Under the deal, Israel has agreed to an additional one day pause in its bombing campaign for every 10 hostages Hamas releases.
Appearing on Radio Four’s Today programme this morning, Levy said “The ball is firmly in [Hamas’] court”.
He added: “If they do not want to release more hostages, we will continue and we will continue at full force to continue putting pressure on Hamas to release the hostages and ultimately to destroy that terror organisation.”
Presenter Nick Robinson asked him: “Just to be clear, you’re saying even if they release them all, which is unlikely isn’t it, you would continue the war.”
Levy said: “Nick this war has to end with the end of Hamas. It means we’re going to totally destroy Hams’ military and governing structure inside the Gaza Strip, and we’re coming after every Hamas rocket launcher, every tunnel and every Hamas terrorist because if we don’t end it this time, there will be a next time and the next time will be worse because Hamas will be emboldened to attack us again.”
The current conflict began after Hamas militants entered Israel on October 7, massacred 1,400 civilians and took a further 240 hostage.
Meanwhile, Levy also called into questions claims by the Hamas-run Gaza health authority that Israel has killed 14,000 Palestinians in its bombing campaign.
He said: “Those are the numbers being produced by Hamas, the same terror organisation that on October 7 burned, behaded, abducted babies and then lied about it. OK, so that is not a credible source.
“So if you are asking me what are the exact casualty numbers, Nick, I can’t tell you exactly how many Israelis were murdered in the October 7 massacre because we still have body bags of unidentifiable human remains. We are still counting the damage and working out the exact death toll.”
He added: “We know that Hamas is exaggerating the numbers, you know that too. We also know that we’ve killed thousands of terrorists - a very large proportion of the total death toll.
“When this war ends and we sum up the total combatants to civilian ratio and when you compare that to other counter-terrorism fought by western armies in urban areas, those numbers will show very clearly the lengths the Israeli army has gone in order to protect civilians and get them out of harm’s way.”