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Gaza: Blinken believes there remains ‘room for agreement’ on hostages, puts pressure on Netanyahu

Is an agreement still possible? In any case, the head of American diplomacy believes in this. In Tel Aviv on Wednesday, Antony Blinken said there remained “opportunity to reach an agreement” on the hostage issue between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas. Netanyahu, however, appeared to quash any hope of a truce earlier in the evening, announcing that he had asked his troops to “prepare” an offensive on Rafah, a city located in southern Gaza.

“There are clearly unacceptable things in Hamas’s response,” but “we think this opens the way to an agreement and we will work tirelessly to achieve that,” said Antony Blinken, who is touring the Middle East for the fifth time since October. 7.

“Israel has an obligation to do everything possible to ensure the protection of civilians and to obtain the assistance they need to fight the conflict,” he ruled, however. “Any military campaign waged by Israel must first and foremost” protect civilians, he insisted, noting that “there are ways to do that.”

Speeches that “increase tension”

In a conversation with the prime minister and other senior Israeli officials, Antony Blinken also noted that he underscored the United States’ “deep concerns” about “actions and speech” that “inflame tensions,” “undermine international support” and undermine “Israel’s security.” .

A warning that appears to be aimed at the Israeli Prime Minister. Benjamin Netanyahu said a little earlier that the security of Israel and the “peace processes in the Middle East” depend only on one thing, in his words, the “complete victory” of the IDF over Hamas. “Hamas leaders will repeat the events of October 7 again and again,” he warned. “Military pressure led to the release of about a hundred hostages (during the truce in November last year), and only the continuation of this military pressure will allow the return of the remaining hostages,” he also estimated.

“International pressure should be aimed at the speedy destruction of Hamas, and not at Israel,” Benjamin Netanyahu also expressed his opinion.

According to Tel Aviv, about 130 Israelis are believed to still be held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip. However, some may have died in bombings carried out by the Israeli army or during urban fighting.

The city of Rafah, the only one so far spared from urban fighting between Hamas terrorists and IDF soldiers, is concentrating tens of thousands of Palestinian civilians displaced by the war.

“Our soldiers are today in Khan Younes (a city in the center of the Gaza Strip). “Soon they will be in Rafah,” the Israeli Prime Minister promised.

Source: Le Parisien

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