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Netanyahu calls for increased military, diplomatic pressure on Hamas – Israel News – The Jerusalem Post

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hinted that the IDF would soon launch a military operation in Rafah while pledging to release the remaining 133 hostages held in Gaza, in a special address to the nation ahead of the Passover holiday, which begins Monday evening.

“In the coming days, we will increase military and political pressure on Hamas because this is the only way to free our hostages and achieve our victory,” Netanyahu said on Sunday.

“So far, all proposals to release our hostages have been categorically rejected by Hamas,” Netanyahu said, accusing the terror group of being responsible for the failure of negotiations on a hostage deal.

Growing pressure on Hamas to return hostages

“Instead of withdrawing from its extreme positions, Hamas is counting on division among us. He is encouraged by the [international] the pressure is directed against the Israeli government,” Netanyahu said.

“As a result, he has only tightened his conditions for the release of our hostages,” Netanyahu said.

Israelis attend a rally calling for the release of Israelis kidnapped by Hamas terrorists in Gaza at “Hostage Square” in Tel Aviv, April 20, 2024. (credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/FLASH90)

“As a result, he has only tightened his conditions for the release of our hostages,” Netanyahu said.

In light of international pressure on Israel for a unilateral ceasefire in Gaza, separate from the release of the hostages, Israel has very few pressure levers to release the hostages, short of a operation in Rafah.

In language reminiscent of the Passover story in which Pharaoh hardened his heart and refused to allow Jewish slaves to leave Egypt, Netanyahu said Hamas “hardens its heart and refuses to let our people leave.”

“Therefore, we will deal him additional and painful blows – and it will happen soon,” Netanyahu promised.

In light of international pressure on Israel for a unilateral ceasefire in Gaza, separate from the release of the hostages, Israel has very few pressure levers to release the hostages, with the exception of an operation in Rafah.

In language reminiscent of the Passover story in which Pharaoh hardened his heart and refused to allow Jewish slaves to leave Egypt, Netanyahu said Hamas “hardens its heart and refuses to let our people leave.”

“Therefore, we will deal him additional and painful blows – and it will happen soon,” Netanyahu promised.

He spoke as Jews around the world prepared to celebrate the Passover holiday starting Monday evening, also known as the Freedom Day, amid efforts to reach a hostage deal appeared to have failed as Israel marked 198 days since Hamas captured the captives. -Israel’s invasion of Israel on October 7.

Israel’s war to destroy Hamas in Gaza, which began that day, has not led to a decisive victory, and there appears to be no way to end the cross-border violence between the IDF and Hezbollah in Liban.

It therefore remains dangerous for more than 100,000 evacuees to celebrate their family holidays in their homes along the country’s southern and northern borders. In the worst cases, houses were destroyed by Hamas or Hezbollah.

Hostage families send letter to government

The war cabinet met Sunday evening, as Netanyahu hears growing criticism for his failure to end the war and reach a deal to free the hostages. Just a day earlier, the Hostages and Missing Families Forum sent a letter to the cabinet asking to meet before the holidays to receive a “sliver of hope” regarding the fate of their loved ones in Gaza.

“It was [close to] 200 days during which nothing is the same, and for us, families of the hostages and kidnapped, the situation is getting worse day by day,” writes the forum.

“Freedom Day will not be celebrated this year in the State of Israel. Freedom is not possible while 133 members of our people and our country are still captive,” the text underlines.

“We demand that you tell us directly what the priorities of the Israeli government are – six months after the start of the war.

“Are the negotiations still ongoing? When should our loved ones come back from hell and what are you doing every day and every hour to bring them back? » asked the forum.

Addressing a dispirited nation, Netanyahu referenced one of the central opening questions of the Passover Haggadah, acknowledging that what was different this year was that 133 hostages were missing from their families’ Seder tables.

“On this Seder night, our hostages held by Hamas are before our eyes. Their suffering and that of their families tears our hearts and only strengthens our resolve to bring them back,” he said.

What is no different is that this Passover, as in my past generation, the enemies of Israel are “rising up to destroy us.”

He promised that “we will defeat those who seek our lives – through the faith of our people, the boldness of our fighters and the unity among us.”

“We are not giving up, even for a moment, our sacred mission to bring them home,” Netanyahu said.

Minister Benny Gantz, a member of the war cabinet, said in a brief speech to the public that it was true that the government had not achieved its goal of freeing the hostages and returning the evacuees home.

“We haven’t succeeded yet, but we haven’t really given up. And we will never give up,” Gantz said.




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