Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid on Sunday urged the government to halt the war in the Gaza Strip and negotiate a deal with Palestinian factions to secure the return of hostages.

Lapid told Israeli Army Radio: “We need to stop the war, strike a deal, and bring the hostages home.”

“Israel has always opposed prolonged wars, and our army, which relies on reserve forces, is not equipped for this kind of warfare,” he added.

For weeks, tens of thousands of Israelis have been protesting in Tel Aviv and other cities, calling for a hostage exchange deal and early elections.

On Saturday, the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, citing unnamed informed sources, reported that the negotiating delegation will depart on Monday to continue discussions on the deal.

According to official Israeli reports, indirect negotiations have resumed between Tel Aviv and Hamas to reach an agreement for the exchange of Israeli and Palestinian hostages and a cease-fire in Gaza.

For months, mediation efforts by the United States, Qatar, and Egypt have aimed to secure an agreement between Israel and Hamas for a hostage exchange and a cease-fire, facilitating the entry of humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip.

However, these efforts have been stalled due to Netanyahu’s refusal to meet Hamas’s demands to halt the war.

Israel, flouting a UN Security Council resolution demanding an immediate cease-fire, has faced international condemnation amid its continued brutal offensive on Gaza since an Oct. 7, 2023 attack by the Palestinian group Hamas.

More than 38,000 Palestinians have since been killed, mostly women and children, and over 87,000 others injured, according to local health authorities.

Nearly nine months into the Israeli war, vast tracts of Gaza lie in ruins amid a crippling blockade of food, clean water and medicine.

Israel stands accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice, whose latest ruling ordered it to immediately halt its military operation in the southern city of Rafah, where over a million Palestinians had sought refuge from the war before it was invaded on May 6.

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