Netanyahu: Capitulation to Hamas demands would not free hostages

Prime minister says victory over the terror group is within reach and half of its force is already dead or wounded; says instructed military to prepare for offensive in Rafah

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday that victory was within reach. Adding that there can be no capitulation to the demands of Hamas after the terror group said that only a complete cease-fire and a withdrawal of troops would bring about the release of the Israeli captives held in Gaza since their abduction on October 7.
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"Giving in to the outrageous demands of Hamas will not only fail to bring about the release of the hostages but will invite an additional massacre and a disaster for Israel," Netanyahu said in a press conference.
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בנימין נתניהו
בנימין נתניהו
Benjamin Netanyahu
(Photo: Itamar Eichner)
He told the reporters that the IDF was instructed to prepare for an offensive on Rafah. The military he said had already killed or injured 20,000 which is half of the terror group's force. "If Hamas survives in Gaza, it will only be a matter of time until the next massacre," he said.
"The day after the war is the day after Hamas. Not part of Hamas, not half of Hamas," he said. "After Hamas is destroyed Gaza will be demilitarized and there is only one force that can ensure Israel's security. That means Israel will operate in Gaza where-ever and how ever long is needed to ensure terrorism does not lift its head again."
The prime minister pushed back on claims that Hamas was again emerging in the northern areas of the Gaza Strip and insisted the military destroyed the terrorists command structure there. He said what is left is "shrapnel" from the force of the Israeli assault. "There is no option but to destroy Hamas militarily and that is within our reach . Armies around the world are looking at our war and comparing it to the nine months it took the U.S. and its allies to win in Mosul, Iraq, over 5,000 terrorists who did not have an underground network of tunnels. The achievements of the IDF speak for themselves."
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אש הממשלה בנימין נתניהו נפגש כעת בארבע עיניים עם מזכיר המדינה של ארה"ב אנתוני בלינקן, בלשכתו בקריה בתל אביב
אש הממשלה בנימין נתניהו נפגש כעת בארבע עיניים עם מזכיר המדינה של ארה"ב אנתוני בלינקן, בלשכתו בקריה בתל אביב
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
(Photo: GPO)
The prime minister then repeated comments he had made in the past that the governing body in the Strip can not be one that educates children for terror or funds terror. "This means we will have to replace UNRWA. I've given instructions to begin this process and informed Secretary Blinken of the fact."
Netanyahu said he did nor order an increase in humanitarian aid to Gaza calling it more fake news. "I understand the pain of the families of the hostages but this is the minimal aid we have committed to and is an important condition for our continued fight. If there is a humanitarian collapse it would be hard to continue the war."
He that he did not agree to release of thousands of Palestinian prisoners, among them mass murderers. "There is no such commitment but judging by the Hamas response [to the proposed agreement] they are not there."
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