By Matthew Lee, Wafaa Shurafa and Samy Magdy | Related Press
TEL AVIV, Israel — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday rejected Hamas’ phrases for a cease-fire and hostage-release settlement, calling them “delusional” and leveling harsh criticism of any association that leaves the militant group in full or partial management of Gaza after the conflict.
He vowed to press forward with Israel’s conflict in opposition to Hamas, now in its fifth month, till reaching “absolute victory.”
Netanyahu made the feedback shortly after assembly the visiting U.S. secretary of state, Antony Blinken, who has been touring the area in hopes of securing a cease-fire settlement.
“Surrendering to Hamas’ delusional calls for that we heard not solely gained’t result in releasing the captives, it should simply invite one other bloodbath,” Netanyahu stated in a nationally televised night information convention.
“We’re on the way in which to an absolute victory,” he stated, including that the operation would final months, not years. “There isn’t a different answer.”
He dominated out any association that leaves Hamas in command of any a part of Gaza. He additionally stated that Israel is the “solely energy” able to guaranteeing safety in the long run.
Earlier, Blinken stated that “numerous work” stays to bridge the hole between Israel and Hamas on phrases for any deal. He was anticipated to carry his personal information convention later Wednesday.
Hamas laid out an in depth, three-phase plan to unfold over 4 1/2 months, responding to a proposal drawn up by the US, Israel, Qatar and Egypt. The plan stipulates that each one hostages could be launched in alternate for a whole lot of Palestinians imprisoned by Israel, together with senior militants, and an finish to the conflict.
Israel has made destroying Hamas’ governing and army skills one in all its wartime aims, and Hamas’ proposal would successfully go away it in energy in Gaza and permit it to rebuild its army capabilities.
U.S. President Joe Biden stated Hamas’ calls for are “a bit of excessive” however that negotiations will proceed.
The deadliest spherical of combating within the historical past of the Israeli-Palestinian battle has killed over 27,000 Palestinians, leveled total neighborhoods, pushed the overwhelming majority of Gaza’s inhabitants from their houses and pushed 1 / 4 of the inhabitants to hunger.
Iran-backed militant teams throughout the area have performed assaults, totally on U.S. and Israeli targets, in solidarity with the Palestinians, drawing reprisals as the danger of a wider battle grows.
Israel stays deeply shaken by the Oct. 7 assault during which Hamas militants burst via the nation’s vaunted defenses and rampaged throughout southern Israel, killing some 1,200 individuals, largely civilians, and abducting some 250, round half of whom stay in captivity in Gaza.
Blinken, who’s on his fifth go to to the area because the conflict broke out, is making an attempt to advance the cease-fire talks whereas pushing for a bigger postwar settlement during which Saudi Arabia would normalize relations with Israel in return for a “clear, credible, time-bound path to the institution of a Palestinian state.”
However the more and more unpopular Netanyahu is against Palestinian statehood, and his hawkish governing coalition might collapse if he’s seen as making too many concessions.
“There’s numerous work to be completed, however we’re very a lot centered on doing that work,” Blinken instructed Israel’s ceremonial president, Isaac Herzog.
MISERY DEEPENS IN DEVASTATED GAZA
There’s little speak of grand diplomatic bargains in Gaza, the place Palestinians yearn for an finish to combating that has upended each side of their lives.
“We pray to God that it stops,” stated Ghazi Abu Issa, who fled his house and sought shelter within the central city of Deir al-Balah. “There isn’t a water, electrical energy, meals or bogs.” These residing in tents have been drenched by winter rains and flooding. “We’ve been humiliated,” he stated.
New moms wrestle to get child formulation and diapers, which might solely be purchased at vastly inflated costs if they are often discovered in any respect. Some have resorted to feeding stable meals to infants youthful than 6 months previous regardless of the well being dangers it poses.
The Palestinian loss of life toll from 4 months of conflict has reached 27,707, in keeping with the Well being Ministry within the Hamas-run territory. That features 123 our bodies dropped at hospitals in simply the final 24 hours, it stated Wednesday. No less than 11,000 wounded individuals have to be urgently evacuated from Gaza, it stated.
The ministry doesn’t distinguish between civilians and combatants in its figures however says a lot of the lifeless have been ladies and youngsters.
Israel has ordered Palestinians to evacuate areas that make up two-thirds of the tiny coastal territory. Many of the displaced are packed into the southern city of Rafah close to the border with Egypt, the place many live in squalid tent camps and overflowing U.N.-run shelters.
Hamas has continued to place up stiff resistance throughout the territory, and its police drive has returned to the streets in locations the place Israeli troops have pulled again. Hamas continues to be holding over 130 hostages, however round 30 of them are believed to be lifeless, with the overwhelming majority killed on Oct. 7.
HAMAS SPELLS OUT DEMANDS FOR HOSTAGE DEAL
Hamas’ response to the cease-fire proposal was revealed in Lebanon’s Al-Akhbar newspaper, which is near the highly effective Hezbollah militant group.
A Hamas official and two Egyptian officers confirmed its authenticity. A fourth official conversant in the talks later clarified the sequencing of the releases. All spoke on situation of anonymity as a result of they weren’t licensed to transient media on the negotiations.
Within the first 45-day section, Hamas would launch all remaining ladies and youngsters, in addition to older and sick males, in alternate for an unspecified variety of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel. Israel would additionally withdraw from populated areas, stop aerial operations, permit way more help to enter and allow Palestinians to return to their houses, together with in devastated northern Gaza.
The second section, to be negotiated throughout the first, would come with the discharge of all remaining hostages, largely troopers, in alternate for all Palestinian detainees over the age of fifty, together with senior militants. Israel would launch a further 1,500 prisoners, 500 of whom could be specified by Hamas, and full its withdrawal from Gaza.
Within the third section, the edges would alternate the stays of hostages and prisoners.
Netanyahu has stated he won’t safe a deal at any value, signaling he wouldn’t conform to the discharge of senior militants.
ISRAELIS AGONIZE OVER FATE OF CAPTIVES
Israelis are intensely centered on the plight of the hostages, with relations and the broader public demanding a take care of Hamas, fearful that point is working out. Israeli forces have solely rescued one hostage, whereas Hamas says a number of had been killed in Israeli airstrikes and failed rescue missions.
Greater than 100 hostages, largely ladies and youngsters, had been freed throughout a weeklong cease-fire in November in alternate for the discharge of 240 Palestinians imprisoned by Israel.
Hundreds of Israelis have taken half in weekly protests calling for the discharge of the hostages and demanding new elections. However Netanyahu is beholden to far-right coalition allies who’ve threatened to deliver down the federal government if he concedes an excessive amount of within the negotiations.
That would spell the top of Netanyahu’s lengthy political profession and expose him to prosecution over long-standing corruption allegations.
Shurafa reported from Deir al-Balah, Gaza Strip and Magdy from Cairo. Related Press author Abby Sewell in Beirut contributed to this report.