July 19, 2024

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Netanyahu says that the intense phase of the Israeli war with Hamas is about to end

Netanyahu says that the intense phase of the Israeli war with Hamas is about to end

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that the “intensive” phase of the Israeli attack on Gaza would end soon, but indicated that he would only accept a “partial” ceasefire agreement that would not end the war, and that this new phase would allow the focus to shift to the raging conflict on the border. The north of the country with Lebanon.

Netanyahu’s statements appear to further backtrack on the US-backed truce agreement with Hamas, setting the stage for the latest conflict between him and the Biden administration and with the families of hostages still being held in Gaza. It also raised new international concerns about escalation with the Iran-backed Hezbollah group, which could ignite a broader regional conflict.

Speaking to Channel 14 on Sunday, in what appeared to be his first major interview with an Israeli media outlet since October 7, Netanyahu said the current phase of the fighting was about to end.

He said, “The intensive phase of the war against Hamas is about to end. This does not mean that the war is about to end, but its intensive phase is about to end in Rafah,” referring to the city that was previously considered a safe zone. In the southern Palestinian Strip.

Speaking in Hebrew, Netanyahu said: “We will then continue mowing the grass, and we will not give up on that.”

He added that after that, “we will have the option of moving part of the force to the north. We will do that.”

The Israeli leader also said he was “ready to reach a partial agreement” that would ensure the release of “some hostages,” but reiterated that Israel would continue its attack on Gaza even if there was a ceasefire “to achieve peace.” The goal of eliminating Hamas.

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Hamas exploited Netanyahu’s statements, saying that his attempt to reach a partial agreement represented a “clear rejection” of the proposal presented by President Joe Biden to reach a comprehensive three-stage agreement to release the hostages and end the fighting in Gaza.

Netanyahu’s office responded late Sunday, saying that Hamas “is opposed to the agreement, not Israel.”

“Prime Minister Netanyahu has made clear that we will not leave Gaza until we return all 120 of our hostages, living and dead,” the statement said.

Washington also previously confirmed that Hamas is obstructing negotiations to reach an agreement.

But the families of the remaining hostages also criticized Netanyahu, suggesting that he backed away from the US proposal.

A group representing them condemned his statement, which it said “abandoned 120 hostages and violated the state’s moral obligation to its citizens.”

The Israeli leader continued to ignore pressure from at home and abroad to reach a ceasefire agreement with Hamas, as well as to ease tensions on Israel’s northern border with Lebanon to avoid an all-out war with Hezbollah.

His comments sparked international concern, with the European Union’s chief diplomat, Josep Borrell, warning that “the risk of an all-out conflict involving Hezbollah is real.”

The top US military officer also warned on Sunday that any Israeli military attack on Lebanon would risk inviting an Iranian response that could put US forces in the region at risk.

Air Force Gen. C. Q. Brown, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters that while Tehran already supports Hamas fighters in Gaza, it would likely provide greater support to the Lebanon-based group “particularly if they feel Hezbollah is under significant threat.” “. “.

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A column of smoke rose during the Israeli bombing of the village of Khiam in southern Lebanon on Sunday.Rabie Daher/AFP via Getty Images

These comments came at a time when disagreements continue between Israel and the United States over arms shipments.

Speaking on Sunday during a visit to Washington, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant stressed that Israeli officials are “committed to ensuring a strong alliance between the United States and Israel” and stressed that the United States is “Israel’s most important ally — and more central than ever.” “

However, Netanyahu on Sunday repeated accusations that the United States is withholding weapons from Israel, a claim rejected by the Biden administration.

More than 37,000 people have been killed in Gaza, including many children, according to local health officials, since Israel launched its deadly offensive following the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks, in which about 1,200 people were killed and about 250 were taken hostage, according to Israel. Officials. More than 100 of them are believed to remain captive in Gaza, and at least a third of them are believed to have died.

The humanitarian organization Save the Children warned on Monday that the situation is increasingly deteriorating for Palestinian youth, revealing estimates that up to 21,000 children in Gaza are “lost in the chaos of war.”

The organization said there were fears that many of them were “trapped under rubble, detained, buried in unmarked graves, or missing from their families” during the Israeli attack.