Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Israel pledges to increase ‘military pressure’ on Hamas

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that the Israeli military will increase “pressure” on Hamas in a bid to secure the release of captives in the Gaza Strip. More than 34,000 Palestinians have been killed in Israel's onslaught against the besieged enclave since early October last year.

“In the coming days we will increase the military and political pressure on Hamas because this is the only way to free our hostages,” Netanyahu said in a video statement on the eve of the Jewish holiday of Passover.

He added that the military would “deliver additional and painful blows” without specifying.

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 soldiers, which Netanyahu dismissed as “delusional”.

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.

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