Monday, March 4, 2024

Netanyahu rejects deal for release of Hamas-held hostages in Gaza: Report

The Israeli government prepared a proposal to initiate new negotiations with the Palestinian group Hamas for the release of Israeli captives in the Gaza Strip but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected the offer, according to a report.

Israel’s Channel 13 reported that unnamed Israeli ministers outlined the general framework of an agreement in recent days aimed at securing the release of Israeli captives held by Hamas.

Negotiations were expected to proceed through an unnamed mediator, but Netanyahu reportedly rejected the move.

The decision to reject the proposal, as indicated by the channel, was made without coordinating with war cabinet ministers Benny Gantz and Gadi Eisenkot.

Channel 13 also reported statements from unnamed political officials claiming that Netanyahu was hindering efforts towards an agreement for the release of the hostages.

Regarding the negotiations, Netanyahu’s office announced the condition demanded by Hamas, which the prime minister categorically rejected, is the end of the war.

Netanyahu’s office said Wednesday that 253 people had been taken hostage to Gaza on October 7, announcing a firm number for the first time.

Previously Israel had been saying “more than 250”, Netanyahu’s office told CNN.

Hamas and other armed groups operating in Gaza seized the hostages in a surprise attack, killing about 1,200 others that day.

Following hostage releases and one rescue, Israel now believes 132 hostages from October 7 are still being held in Gaza – 105 of them alive and 27 dead.

The Israeli army has been conducting a devastating war in Gaza since Oct. 7, resulting in 24,448 deaths and 61,504 injuries.

The conflict has led to the displacement of more than 85% of the population in the Gaza Strip — approximately 1.9 million residents — according to Palestinian authorities and the UN.

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