JERUSALEM, Israel – Rockets fired by Hamas triggered the end to a week-long pause in the Gaza fighting in the early hours of Friday morning. The war restarted after Israel accused the terror group of violating the truce agreement.
After Hamas began firing rockets into southern Israel, the Israel Defense Forces resumed bombing in Gaza City. The renewed fighting now puts the release of the remaining hostages on hold. During the halt in the fighting more than 100 hostages were freed.
On Thursday, 10 more Israeli hostages were released. Israel had wanted all the women and children to be set free, yet with the resumption of the fighting and the breakdown in negotiations, the fate of nearly 140 hostages remaining in captivity is unknown.
On Friday, Israel said its troops had discovered the bodies of four more hostages in Gaza, bringing the total known dead to seven.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken left the region Friday morning after a day of meetings with Israeli and Palestinian leaders.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Blinken Israel's goals for the war.
"I told him: 'This is the same Hamas. This is the same Hamas that carried out the terrible massacre on October 7, the same Hamas that tries to murder us everywhere.' I told him: 'We swore, and I swore, to eliminate Hamas. Nothing will stop us.' We will continue this war until we achieve the three goals: to release all our abductees, to eliminate Hamas completely, and to ensure that Gaza will never again face such a threat."
Blinken repeated the Biden administration's message that there should be fewer civilian deaths and displacement in operations in southern Gaza than was experienced in northern Gaza. Meanwhile, Israel's Channel 12 is reporting Blinken gave Israel "weeks" to finish the job of destroying Hamas.
“In my meetings today with the Prime Minister and senior Israeli officials, I made clear that before Israel resumes major military operations, it must put in place humanitarian, civilian protection plans that minimize further casualties of innocent Palestinians," Blinken stated.
Crowds of Palestinians in the West Bank celebrated the release of more than 200 Israeli-held prisoners during the ceasefire. Many of those released had been convicted of terrorism, including attempted murder, stabbings, and bombings.
Palestinian Media Watch announced the Palestinian Authority will be paying thousands of shekels to convicted terrorists.
The P.A. has a long history of glorifying terrorists and martyrs by naming schools and public places after terrorists such as Dulal Mugrabi, convicted of one of the worst terror attacks in Israel's history as the infamous "Refrigerator Bomber." He filled a refrigerator with explosives that killed 15 people and was called a "Palestinian symbol." The terrorists are also glorified in the curriculum for Palestinian schools.
After the outbreak of the war in Gaza, support for the P.A.'s rival, Hamas, has increased substantially. As a result, the P.A. has praised what Hamas did on October 7th.
Despite this, Blinken sees the P.A. as a peace partner after the war.
He noted, “We've said, and indeed I had an opportunity to discuss today with President Abbas, the need to reform, the need to revitalize, to revamp the Palestinian Authority, so that it can most effectively meet the aspirations of the Palestinian people and deliver for them.”