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Hamas says there is ‘no chance’ for release of hostages after Netanyahu rejects peace deal



The approximately 130 Israelis still being held hostage by Hamas will never be freed, a militant leader said after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday rejected the terror group’s conditions to end the war.

“In exchange for the release of our hostages, Hamas demands the end of the war, the withdrawal of our forces from Gaza, the release of all the murderers and rapists,” Netanyahu stated in a video address.

“And leaving Hamas intact. I reject outright the terms of surrender of the monsters of Hamas,” he added.

Sami Abu Zuhri, a senior Hamas official, countered by saying Netanyahu’s refusal to end the military offensive in the territory “means there is no chance for the return of the [Israeli] captives” who were abducted in the group’s Oct. 7 terror attack.

Under a deal brokered by the US, Qatar and Egypt in late November, more than 100 of the estimated 240 hostages taken by Hamas on Oct. 7 were freed in exchange for the release of 240 Palestinians held in Israeli prisons.

Netanyahu has faced increasing pressure to secure the release the 136 hostages who remain in Gaza.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu  5
A Hamas official says there is “no chance” the remaining hostages will be released after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected the terror group’s conditions to end the war. REUTERS
Relatives of the hostages demanded action during a protest outside his residence late Sunday.

“We need the government to now fix the problem that they have created and get these hostages home immediately,” said Jon Polin, father of Hersh Goldberg-Polin, according to Reuters.

The Hostages and Missing Persons Families Forum demanded that the prime minister “clearly state that we will not abandon civilians, soldiers and others kidnapped in the October debacle.

“We must advance the deal now. If the prime minister decides to sacrifice the hostages, he should show leadership and honestly share his position with the Israeli public,” the group said in a statement.

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Supporters and families of Israeli hostages held in Gaza hold pictures of their loved ones during a protest outside the home of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Eyal Warshavsky/SOPA Images/Shutterstock
Protesters outside Netanyahu's home 5
The Hostages and Missing Persons Families Forum demanded action by the prime minister. AFP via Getty Images
Netanyahu, meanwhile, took a stronger stance on the issue of Palestinian statehood than before.

“I will not compromise on full Israeli security control of all territory west of the Jordan River,” he said.

On Friday, President Biden said he spoke with Netanyahu about possible solutions for creation of an independent Palestinian state and suggested that one path could involve a non-militarized government.

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Smoke billows during an Israeli bombardment over Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip on Monday. AFP via Getty Images
Netanyahu appeared to push back later against Biden’s remarks about Palestinian statehood after the Israel-Hamas war ends as the two leaders do not agree on Palestinians having a state, a solution Biden has advocated to achieve long-term peace.

On Sunday, Netanyahu repeated that he would insist upon “full Israeli security control over all the territory west of Jordan.”

He said he had strongly stood up to “international and internal pressures” to change this position and would continue to do so.

Israeli soldiers operating in the Gaza Strip. 5
Israeli soldiers operating in the Gaza Strip. via REUTERS
“My insistence is what prevented for years the establishment of a Palestinian state that would have posed an existential danger to Israel,” the premier said.

Gaza’s health ministry announced Sunday that 25,000 Palestinians have been killed in the war, about two-thirds of them women and children, according to the United Nations.

UN chief António Guterres on Sunday described the scale of civilian deaths as “heartbreaking and utterly unacceptable.”

“Israel’s military operations have spread mass destruction and killed civilians on a scale unprecedented during my time as secretary-general,” Guterres said at a global summit in Uganda.

US intelligence officials told the Wall Street Journal Sunday that Israel had only killed about 20% to 30% of Hamas’ estimated 25,000 to 30,000 militants, and claim that IDF officials had overinflated enemy casualties during their more than three-month war.