Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday that he has rejected Hamas demands for a cease-fire, and is vowing to proceed with Israel’s military offensive in Gaza until achieving “absolute victory.” Despite warnings of the potential for dire consequences, Netanyahu said he had ordered the Israel Defense Forces to prepare to push into the southern Gaza city of Rafah, stating that the IDF’s operation in Gaza would last months, not years. The Israeli leader added: “We are on the way to an absolute victory. There is no other solution.”
Netanyahu’s comments came shortly after meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who has been traveling across the region while trying to securing a cease-fire agreement. The U.S. has been pushing Israel to adjust its tactics in Gaza. amid the rising death toll (with officials in the Hamas-run enclave stating the death toll is nearing 28,000, many of whom are women and children). Additionally, roughly 1.5 million Palestinians have been displaced from their homes by the war in Gaza, and are living in squalid tent camps and U.N.-run shelters.
In his comments, Netanyahu added that agreeing to the terms proposed by Hamas would “invite another massacre,” and that Israel was the “only power” capable of guaranteeing security in the long term (Hamas has long been designated as a terror organization by Israel, Hamas and the European Union). Netanyahu ruled out any arrangement that leaves Hamas in full or partial control of Gaza, which the group’s latest proposal would have done.
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