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Netanyahu rejects Hamas hostage offer, doubles down on Rafah op


Hamas counteroffer is “very far from Israel’s core demands,” says Netanyahu, calling proposal a bid to torpedo IDF operation in Rafah.

By David Rosenberg, World Israel News

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday rejected Hamas’ counterproposal issued Monday to a draft of a hostage deal agreed upon last week by Israeli and Egyptian negotiators, and doubled down on his government’s plans to carry out a comprehensive ground operation in Rafah with the aim of eliminating Hamas’ operation capacity in the Gaza Strip.

Speaking in a video statement, Netanyahu responded to claims by Hamas chief-in-exile Ismail Haniyeh Monday evening that his organization had accepted the Israeli-Egyptian framework for a hostage deal.

Later, however, Israeli officials responded that the Hamas proposal they had received via Egypt and Qatar had significant changes from the version proposed by Israel and Egypt, including clauses which could force the end of the current war.

In addition, Hamas intimated that some of the 33 Israeli hostages who would be freed as part of the deal are no longer alive.

The Israeli premier condemned the Hamas counterproposal, calling it a ruse designed to “torpedo” Israel’s planned entry into Rafah to destroy the terror group’s last remaining stronghold in the Gaza Strip.

“As the War Cabinet unanimously determined, the Hamas proposal was very far from Israel’s core demands,” Netanyahu said.

“We have already proven, in the previous release of hostages, that military pressure on Hamas is an essential condition for the return of our hostages. The Hamas proposal yesterday was designed to torpedo the entry of our forces into Rafah. That did not happen.”

“Israel will not allow Hamas to restore its regime of evil in the Strip. Israel will not allow it to rebuild its military capabilities in order to continue striving for our destruction. Israel cannot accept a proposal that endangers the security of our citizens and the future of our state.”

Speaking after IDF forces seized control of the Rafah crossing on the Gaza-Egyptian frontier, Netanyahu reiterated his pledge to move forward with the much-anticipated Rafah operation.

“Last night, with the consent of the War Cabinet, I directed [that the IDF] act in Rafah. They raised Israeli flags at the Rafah Crossing and took down the Hamas flags.”

“The entry into Rafah serves two of the main objectives of the war: Returning our hostages and eliminating Hamas.”

“The taking of the Rafah Crossing today is a very important step, an important step on the way to destroying Hamas’s remaining military capabilities, including the elimination of the four terrorist battalions in Rafah, and an important step to damaging Hamas’s governing capabilities, because as of this morning, we have denied Hamas the crossing that was vital to establishing its terrorist regime in the Strip.”

The post Netanyahu rejects Hamas hostage offer, doubles down on Rafah op appeared first on World Israel News.