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Netanyahu vows to free remaining hostages using renewed military pressure on Hamas

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during his public address before Passover, on April 21, 2024. (Photo: Screenshot)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed again on Monday, the eve of the Passover holiday, to bring the remaining 133 hostages in Gaza back home.

“In the coming days we will increase the military and political pressure on Hamas because this is the only way to free our hostages and achieve our victory,” Netanyahu stated, as the Jewish nation prepares for its Holiday of Freedom.

While Netanyahu did not elaborate, some pundits believe suggest he was hinting that the IDF would soon launch its much-anticipated military operation against Hamas’ last main stronghold in Rafah, a town in southern Gaza, close to the Egyptian border.

The Israeli leader emphasized that international diplomatic efforts to secure the release of the hostages have failed, due to Hamas’ stubbornness.

“Until now, all proposals for the release of our hostages have been rejected by Hamas outright,” Netanyahu said.

“Instead of withdrawing from its extreme positions, Hamas is counting on a rift among us. It draws encouragement from the [international] pressure being directed at the government of Israel," Netanyahu said. "As a result of this, it has only hardened its conditions for the release of our hostages.”

The prime minister added that Hamas was “hardening its heart and refusing to let our people go,” in a reference to the ancient biblical holiday of Passover and the Egyptian pharaoh's refusal to release the children of Israel from slavery.

Families of the remaining hostages warned that time is running out to save their loved ones from death. A British Daily Mail report claimed on Sunday that only 40 of the remaining hostages are still alive. If true, it would mean that roughly two-thirds of the remaining Israeli hostages are already dead.

However, the Israeli domestic intelligence agency, Shin Bet, rejected the report as inaccurate.

“The publication in question is not true and does not represent the opinion of the Shin Bet,” the agency stated. “The numbers mentioned in the article are based on the writer’s opinion only and are not based on information from the Shin Bet.”

Some, or even most, remaining hostages are believed to be held in Rafah, which is the only part of Gaza under continued full Hamas control. While Washington and other Western allies understand the military rationale behind an IDF operation, they have nevertheless opposed it due to the concentration of over one million Gazan civilians in the area.

The Israeli government has emphasized that it will evacuate the civilians ahead of any military operation.

Jerusalem argued that it cannot allow a quarter of Hamas forces to survive and remain intact, which would pose an ongoing threat to Israel's security. Top Hamas leaders praised the Oct. 7 massacres of 1,200 Israelis and vowed to repeat them “again and again.” Like the Iranian ayatollah regime, Hamas openly calls for the destruction of the world’s only Jewish state.

In March, Israeli Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer, a close Netanyahu advisor, vowed that Israel would defeat Hamas in Rafah, with or without international support.

“It will happen even if Israel is forced to fight alone. Even if the entire world turns on Israel, including the United States, we’re going to fight until the battle’s won,” Dermer pledged.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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