JERUSALEM - The Israeli war cabinet minister Benny Gantz has threatened to resign if Benjamin Netanyahu fails to adopt an agreed plan for Gaza, calling into question the future of the Israeli government.

During a press conference on Saturday, Gantz announced that if a plan for postwar governance of the territory is not consolidated and approved by 8 June, his opposition National Unity party will withdraw from the coalition government.

The press conference came just hours after the Israel Defense Forces said it had recovered the body of another hostage, Ron Benjamin, 53, who had been taking part in a cycle ride near the border with Gaza when Hamas launched its bloody attack on 7 October.

His body was found along with three other hostages – Itzik Gelernter, Shani Louk and Amit Buskila – whose remains were recovered on Friday.

“Personal and political considerations have begun to enter the most sacred parts of Israel’s defense,” Gantz told reporters.

“Prime minister Netanyahu, I look you in the eye tonight and tell you: the choice is in your hands,” Gantz said. “The Netanyahu of a decade ago would have done the right thing. Are you willing to do the right and patriotic thing today?

“The people of Israel are watching you,” he added. “You must choose between Zionism and cynicism, between unity and factionalism, between responsibility and lawlessness – and between victory and disaster.”

His departure would leave Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, even more beholden to far-right allies who have taken a hardline on negotiations over a ceasefire and hostage release.

On Thursday, defence minister, Yoav Gallant, challenged Netanyahu over the same issue, saying he would not permit any solution where Israeli military or civil governance were in the territory. Gallant’s comments were immediately backed by his fellow minister Gantz, Netanyahu’s main political rival in the emergency coalition, plunging Israel’s leadership into a highly public row.

Gantz demanded a six-point plan, which includes demilitarisation in Gaza and the establishment of a joint US, European, Arab and Palestinian administration that will manage Gaza’s civilian affairs and the return of hostages.

The previous day, the IDF announced that the bodies of three hostages kidnapped by Hamas, including the German-Israeli Shani Louk, had been retrieved from Gaza.

Images of militants parading Louk’s bloodied and broken body through Gaza on the back of a pickup truck were among the first to capture the horrors of the brutal 7 October attack.

The family initially hoped she had been injured and survived, but three weeks later learned that she was presumed dead, after fragments of her skull had been found at the festival site, her father, Nissim Louk, told the BBC’s Today programme, saying his family is relieved they will finally be able to bury their “beautiful girl” after her body was recovered from Gaza.

“She brought light to the world, and beauty,” he said, in a tribute to his daughter. Her remains were brought back with those of Amit Buskila, 28, and Itzhak Gelerenter, 56, who were also murdered at the festival.

Despite domestic pressure over the fate of the remaining hostages still held in Gaza – more than a quarter of whom are thought to be dead – including weekly demonstrations in Tel Aviv, hopes of a deal to release them have ebbed.

Negotiations over a ceasefire and hostage releases have virtually stalled, with Hamas and the Israeli government blaming each other.

The unity that brought traumatised Israelis together in the immediate wake of the cross-border attack when Hamas and other Palestinian groups killed 1,200 people and took 254 hostage, has long since splintered.

Now with much of Gaza in ruins, the humanitarian crisis drawing criticism from even Israel’s close ally the US, and Hamas’s leaders on the ground neither killed nor captured, criticism of how Netanyahu is conducting the war is increasingly fierce and public.

As Israeli troops pushed into Rafah last week, and returned to parts of northern Gaza it claimed were cleared of Hamas months ago, a former Mossad deputy director turned opposition MP described the campaign in Gaza as a political, economic and military failure.

“This is a war without aim and we are unequivocally losing it,” said Ram Ben-Barak in a blunt interview with Israeli public radio.

“We are forced to go back and fight again in the same areas, losing soldiers, losing in the international arena, destroying relations with the US, the economy is collapsing,” he told the Reshet Bet radio station. “Show me one thing we are succeeding in.”

For months, Netanyahu has dodged questions about what will come after the war, saying Israel must focus on “destroying Hamas”. Critics say he has no incentive to end a war, when peace will bring an official reckoning with the political, military and intelligence failures.

As Israeli forces pushed further into Rafah, which had been the main gateway for aid into all of Gaza, humanitarian organisations warned that not enough food was getting into an enclave which the US says faces an imminent famine.

Humanitarian assistance has begun to arrive via a US-made pier, but the US aid chief said the new sea corridor could not be a substitute for land crossings, and warned that deliveries of food and fuel had slowed to dangerously low levels.

Philippe Lazzarini, the head of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, Unrwa, said that since Israel’s Rafah operation began, there had been a massive movement of people.

“Nearly half of the population of Rafah or 800,000 people are on the road having been forced to flee since the Israeli forces started the military operation in the area on 6 May,” he said in a post on X.