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22 Apr, 2024 00:31

Israel promises ‘painful blows’ to Hamas

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claims that all proposals to reach a new hostage deal have been rejected by the militant group
Israel promises ‘painful blows’ to Hamas

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to increase pressure on Hamas and threatened to “land additional and painful blows” in an effort to have the remaining Israeli hostages held in Gaza released.

Some 129 Israelis are believed to still be in captivity, following the incursion of Palestinian militants into the Jewish state on October 7, when over 1,100 people, mostly civilians, were killed and more than 200 were taken hostage.

A short-lived truce in November last year saw 105 hostages released in exchange for 240 Palestinian prisoners, but further negotiations stalled over Hamas’ demands for a permanent ceasefire and complete withdrawal of Israeli forces, which Netanyahu dismissed as “delusional.”

In a pre-Passover video message on Sunday, Netanyahu said that the absence of the hostages over the holiday would “only strengthen our determination to bring them back,” explaining that all Israeli proposals to secure the release of the hostages have been “rejected outright by Hamas.”

“Instead of retreating from its extreme positions, Hamas builds on division within us. It draws encouragement from the pressures directed at the Israeli government. As a result, it only tightens its conditions for the release of our hostages,” Netanyahu continued, in an apparent reference to anti-government protests calling for new elections and demanding that the authorities do more to reach a new hostage deal.

“In the coming days, we will increase the military and diplomatic pressure on Hamas because this is the only way to free our hostages and achieve our victory,” he added.

More than 34,000 Palestinians have been killed since the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) launched a bombing campaign followed by a ground invasion of Gaza, according to the latest figures provided by the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry.

Netanyahu maintains that Israel cannot achieve its goal of “total victory” without launching an offensive on the southern Gaza city of Rafah, where around 1.4 million displaced Palestinians have sought refuge since the beginning of the war.

The potential invasion of the densely populated city has caused alarm in the international community. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has warned of “terrible consequences” if Israel goes ahead with the plan.