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Israel ready for temporary truce with Hamas – Netanyahu

Israel wants the release of hostages, but will not “surrender” to the Palestinian militant group, the prime minister said

Israel is willing to pause its military offensive in Gaza if Hamas releases all the surviving hostages kidnapped last October, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Sunday, while rejecting demands for a withdrawal of IDF forces. 

“Israel will not agree to Hamas’s demands, which mean surrender, and will continue the fighting until all its goals are achieved”, the prime minister said.

During last year’s October 7 attack on Israeli territories near Gaza, Hamas militants killed some 1,200 people and took another 250 hostage. Since then, a number of the captives have been released but around 130 are still being held in the Palestinian enclave.

Last week, Israel officially sent Hamas a ceasefire proposal which suggests a temporary cessation of hostilities to facilitate an exchange of several dozen hostages for Palestinian prisoners being held in Israeli jails.

The proposal has been described as “extraordinarily generous” by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who has urged Hamas to “decide quickly” and “make the right decision.”

Hamas, meanwhile, has demanded a permanent ceasefire and the withdrawal of all Israeli troops from the besieged Palestinian enclave.

Israel will send troops into the Gaza’s city of Rafah,  regardless of whether it reaches a ceasefire and hostage-release deal with Hamas, Netanyahu said on Tuesday.

Situated at Gaza’s southern border with Egypt, Rafah is currently home to an estimated 1.4 million Palestinians who have fled the northern reaches of the enclave. Since October, Israel has carried out regular airstrikes in Rafah against what it claims are Hamas targets, and Netanyahu has threatened for months to launch a ground invasion of the city, despite objections from the US and UN.

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