Thursday June 20, 2024

Netanyahu for ground operation expansion for hostage release

Published : 03 Dec 2023, 02:26

  DF News Desk
Palestinian children are seen at a temporary refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip city of Khan Younis, Nov. 28, 2023. Photo: Xinhua.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Saturday that freeing hostages in Gaza would be "impossible" without continuing Israel's deadly ground operation, after pulling his team from talks in Qatar on a ceasefire with Hamas, reported Xinhua.

"We will continue the war until we achieve all of its goals, and it cannot be done without the expansion of the ground operation," Netanyahu declared at a press conference in central Tel Aviv's Hakirya military base.

Before the seven-day ceasefire collapsed on Friday, 110 hostages were released, including 24 foreign nationals, while an estimated total of about 135 people are still being held by Hamas and other militants in Gaza, according to Netanyahu.

He said he had instructed the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) to resume fighting "with ever-increasing intensity." Over the day, Israel attacked more than 400 locations, and "an extensive airstrike" targeted Khan Yunis in the southern enclave, previously considered a "safe zone," as well as Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip and other locations.

Thousands rallied in Tel Aviv for the remaining hostages' release, with similar demonstrations across the country, calling for Netanyahu's resignation due to his failure to prevent Hamas' surprise attack on October 7.

Newly released hostages addressed the Tel Aviv crowd. Ditza Haiman, an 84-year-old woman from Kibbutz Nir Oz in southern Israel, recounted that "we must get the hostages out immediately and do everything possible to make it happen!"

In a press conference, Israel's Defense Minister Yoav Gallant attributed the truce collapse to Hamas' refusal to release 15 women and children.

Saleh al-Arouri, deputy chairman of the Political Bureau of Hamas, denied the claims. "We said that we've handed over the women and children we had, and the remaining prisoners in Gaza are soldiers and civilians who served in the army," he told Al Jazeera TV news on Saturday.

He added that Israel "decided not to resume the exchange deal with new standards." "Our official position now is that there will be no exchange of prisoners until after the war stops," he said.

Netanyahu ordered the withdrawal of its negotiating team from the Doha talks, citing an "impasse."

A total of 15,200 people have been killed in Gaza since the beginning of the conflict, 75 percent of them being children, women and the elderly, according to the Gaza-based Health Ministry. Israeli authorities said about 1,200 people were killed on the Israeli side, mostly during the Hamas surprise attack.