Netanyahu says Israel to inflict more ‘painful blows” on Hamas soon

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in a video address ahead of the Jewish Passover holiday, said Israel will soon deliver more painful attacks to the Palestinian Islamist Hamas group in Gaza.

In a Sunday video address, Netanyahu announced “further painful blows” against Hamas, saying “this will happen shortly.”

Israel has been announcing a military operation in the town of Rafah in the south of the Gaza Strip on the border with Egypt for some time, despite warnings from its allies.

The Passover holiday begins on Monday evening.

In negotiations for a ceasefire in return for the release of further hostages and Palestinian prisoners, Hamas has recently hardened its position, Netanyahu explained.

“Instead of deviating from its radical positions, Hamas is now building on the division among us, emboldened by the pressure exerted on the Israeli government,” said Netanyahu.

“In the coming days, we will increase military and diplomatic pressure on Hamas, because this is the only way to free our hostages and achieve our victory,” the prime minister said. Hamas has so far rejected all mediation proposals, he said.

As a condition for the release of further hostages, Hamas is demanding a permanent ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, a comprehensive withdrawal of Israeli troops, the return of internally displaced people to their homes, a lifting of the blockade and the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip.

Israel and Hamas have been negotiating indirectly for months about a ceasefire and the release of further hostages who were kidnapped in the Hamas massacre on October 7.

Until a few weeks ago, Israel had assumed that just under 100 of the 130 remaining hostages were still alive. However, it is now feared that significantly more of them may already be dead.

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