Netanyahu says war will continue even if ceasefire agreement with Hamas is reached | Israel-Palestine conflict news

The Israeli prime minister reiterated that he would not agree to any deal that seeks to end the eight-month-old war.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has signalled an openness to a “partial” agreement that would facilitate the return of some, but not all, of the prisoners still being held in Gaza.

But he reiterated that he would not agree to any deal that provides for an end to Israel’s war on Gaza, despite the United States previously insisting that the Israeli proposal would be a path to an end to the attacks.

“The objective is to return the kidnapped people and eliminate the Hamas regime in the Gaza Strip,” he said in an interview with Israeli media channel 14 on Sunday.

Tens of thousands of Israelis have consistently opposed Prime Minister Netanyahu and his government, demanding early elections and an agreement to return the prisoners.

People take part in a demonstration in Tel Aviv, Israel, against the Netanyahu government and calling for the release of Gaza prisoners. [Eloisa Lopez/Reuters]

U.S. President Joe Biden last month announced a ceasefire proposal that included a six-week halt to fighting and the release of Israeli prisoners in Gaza and Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli prisons, to allow for negotiations towards a permanent ceasefire.

U.S. officials claim the proposal was drafted by Israel, but Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, have vowed to continue fighting until Hamas is eliminated and have refused to publicly give it their full backing.

Netanyahu also told Channel 14 that Israel’s “intense” military offensive in the southern Gaza city of Rafah was almost over.

“The escalation of the fighting with Hamas is about to end,” he said. “It doesn’t mean the war is about to end, it means the escalation of the war in Rafah is about to end.”

“Civilian government”

In his first interview with Israeli media since the Gaza war began, Netanyahu again rejected the idea that the Palestinian Authority, based in the occupied West Bank, was ruling Gaza on behalf of Hamas.

“We also want to create a civilian administration to manage the supply of humanitarian supplies and, in the future, civilian affairs in the Gaza Strip, possibly with local Palestinian support and possibly external support from regional countries,” he said.

“At the end of the day, you need two things. [Israeli military] and the establishment of a civilian government.”

The Gaza Strip has been in a state of war for more than eight months since a Hamas-led Israeli attack left 1,139 people dead, and dozens of people remain trapped in the Gaza Strip.

According to the Palestinian Health Ministry, Israel’s military offensive against Gaza has killed at least 37,598 people so far.

Troops move into Lebanon

Prime Minister Netanyahu said troops would soon be deployed to the northern border with Lebanon for “defensive purposes.”

“Once the intense fighting is over, there will be the possibility of moving some of our forces north. And we will do this. Firstly, for defensive purposes. And secondly, [evacuated] “Let the people go home,” Netanyahu told Channel 14.

“If we can, we’ll do it diplomatically. If we can’t, we’ll do it some other way. But [the residents] “Go home,” he said.

Since the war in Gaza began, there have been near-daily gun battles between Israeli forces and Lebanese Hezbollah fighters, forcing tens of thousands of civilians to flee in northern Israel and southern Lebanon.

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