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Israel vows to increase ‘military pressure’ on Hamas amid Gaza onslaught

Anadolu Agency MIDDLE EAST
Published April 21,2024

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed Sunday to increase "military pressure" on Hamas amid a deadly offensive on the Gaza Strip.

"In the coming days, we will increase political and military pressure on Hamas because this is the only way to free our hostages," Netanyahu said in a recorded speech released by his office on the eve of the Jewish holiday of Passover.

Regarding a hoped-for agreement for a hostage swap with Hamas, Netanyahu claimed that "Hamas draws encouragement from the pressure imposed on the Israeli government."

"All proposals for releasing the hostages have been rejected outright by Hamas," the Israeli premier said.

There was no comment from Hamas on the claim.

The Israeli government is facing mounting pressure from the hostages' families and the opposition to reach a swap deal with Hamas.

The Palestinian group, which is believed to be holding around 133 hostages, demands an end to Israel's brutal offensive on the Gaza Strip in return for any hostage-prisoner swap deal with Tel Aviv.

Nearly 34,100 Palestinians have been killed and 76,800 others injured in the Israeli onslaught since Oct. 7, 2023, amid mass destruction and shortages of necessities. Israel says nearly 1,200 people have been killed in the Oct. 7 Hamas attack.

A previous deal in November saw the release of 81 Israelis and 24 foreigners in exchange for 240 Palestinians, including 71 women and 169 children.

The Israeli war has pushed 85% of Gaza's population into internal displacement amid acute shortages of food, clean water, and medicine, while 60% of the enclave's infrastructure has been damaged or destroyed, according to the UN.