Hamas says Netanyahu seeking to prolong war, mislead Israelis

The Israeli government and its Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu want in every possible way to “mislead domestic public opinion and prolong the aggression” against Gaza, a member of the Palestinian group Hamas’s politburo has stated.

“Netanyahu and his government are striving by all means to continue misleading Zionist public opinion and prolong the aggression, despite the losses their defeated army is suffering in terms of lives and equipment,” Osama Hamdan said during a press conference in the Lebanese capital Beirut on Wednesday.

“Both Netanyahu and his government are trying to evade their post-aggression obligations and postpone the confrontation with the investigative committees regarding the dismal failure on Oct. 7,” he added.

Hamdan said that “ministers from the occupation government have reiterated their calls to work on displacing the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip in an attempt to obstruct any path leading to halting the aggression against civilians.”

The statements came less than an hour after Netanyahu announced his rejection of Hamas’s demands to conclude a prisoner swap deal, threatening to continue fighting in the Gaza Strip and moving towards Rafah in its south.

Regarding Hamas’s demands to conclude the deal, Hamdan said “the movement has submitted its comments on the proposal to ensure a comprehensive cease-fire, end the aggression against defenseless civilians, deliver aid and relief materials, secure shelter for displaced people, ensure reconstruction, lift the siege on the Strip and conclude a prisoner swap operation.”

Hamdan added that the movement “delivered its response to Qatar and Egypt regarding the framework of a cease-fire agreement following the completion of consultations within the movement’s leadership and with resistance factions.”

He said that Hamas “dealt positively with the proposal, despite the Zionist reactions, which attempted to deny the most basic rights of the people.”

Hamdan stated a delegation from the group led by senior Hamas official Khalil al-Hayya would head to the Egyptian capital Cairo Thursday to follow up on the dialogue regarding what Hamas presented in the proposal.

On Jan. 28, a meeting was held in Paris with the participation of Israel, the US, Egypt and Qatar to discuss a prisoner swap deal and cease-fire in Gaza conducted in three stages, according to Palestinian and American sources.

Israel estimates that there are around 136 Israeli hostages in Gaza, while it is holding at least 8,800 Palestinians in its prisons, according to official sources from both sides, but there is no confirmation regarding the final numbers.

Israel has launched a deadly offensive on Gaza following an Oct. 7 cross-border attack by Hamas, killing at least 27,700 Palestinians and injuring 67,000 others, while nearly 1,200 Israelis are believed to have been killed in the Hamas attack.

The Israeli offensive has left 85% of Gaza’s population internally displaced amid acute shortages of food, clean water and medicine, while 60% of the enclave’s infrastructure has been damaged or destroyed, according to the UN.

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