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5 May, 2024 11:53

Israel ready for temporary truce with Hamas – Netanyahu

Israel wants the release of hostages, but will not “surrender” to the Palestinian militant group, the prime minister said
Israel ready for temporary truce with Hamas – Netanyahu

Israel is willing to pause its military offensive in Gaza if Hamas releases all the surviving hostages kidnapped last October, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Sunday, while rejecting calls for a withdrawal of IDF forces. 

“Israel will not agree to Hamas’s demands, which mean surrender, and will continue the fighting until all its goals are achieved,” the prime minister said.

Netanyahu added that Israel is “not ready to accept a situation” in which Hamas retains its military capability and remains control over Gaza, reiterating a position he has stuck to since the war began seven months ago.

During last year’s attack on Israeli territories near Gaza, Hamas militants killed some 1,200 people and took another 250 hostage. Since then, a number of the captives have been released but around 130 are still being held in the Palestinian enclave.

Last week, Israel officially sent Hamas a ceasefire proposal which suggests a temporary cessation of hostilities to facilitate an exchange of several dozen hostages, with Palestinian prisoners being held in Israeli jails.

The proposal has been described as “extraordinarily generous” by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who has urged Hamas to “decide quickly” and “make the right decision.”

Hamas, meanwhile, has demanded a permanent ceasefire and the withdrawal of all Israeli troops from the besieged Palestinian enclave. In a statement on Sunday, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh accused Netanyahu of “aggression and expansion of the circle of conflict,” and accused the Israeli prime minister of “sabotaging the efforts made through the mediators and various parties.”

As Netanyahu and Haniyeh released duelling statements, American, Egyptian, and Qatari officials met in Cairo on Sunday to discuss the stalled ceasefire talks. Israel did not send a delegation to the negotiations.

Netanyahu said on Tuesday that Israel will send troops into the Gazan city of Rafah, regardless of whether it reaches a ceasefire and hostage-release deal with Hamas.

Situated at Gaza’s southern border with Egypt, Rafah is currently home to an estimated 1.4 million Palestinians who have fled the northern part of the enclave. Since October, Israel has carried out regular missile strikes on Rafah against what it claims are Hamas targets, and Netanyahu has threatened for months to launch a ground invasion of the city, despite objections from the US and UN.