Over 200 days into Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu needs to decide what matters more: extracting ultimate revenge on Hamas, and in the process all other Palestinians in Gaza, or getting hostages back alive.

Israel (at the time of this writing) had made it clear that a major assault on Rafah, the Gaza border town in which four Hamas battalions and more than 1 million civilians have taken refuge, was imminent. In a last-ditch attempt to forestall the attack, the U.S. and 17 other countries with citizens held in Gaza made a joint plea on Thursday for Hamas to release them.

Let’s be clear: This is a Hail Mary pass aimed at forestalling the further expansion of a war that’s destabilizing the Middle East, isolating Israel, boosting antisemitism worldwide, damaging President Joe Biden’s re-election prospects and threatening support for the Jewish state in its most important ally, the U.S.