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Netanyahu Vows Continued Gaza Operations Until Hostage Release, Hamas Threat Eliminated

An aerial photograph illustrating the passage between the UN building  adjacent to a UN school in Khan Yunis where large quantities of weapons were found by the IDF. Photo Credit: Israel Defense Forces.

JERUSALEM, Israel – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said no form of pressure can compel Israel to cease its military operations in Gaza before achieving its set goals, including the release of hostages, even as fighting persists in Gaza and Northern Israel despite international calls for a ceasefire.

Netanyahu, addressing the nation's stance, said, "We really want to achieve another (hostage) release and we are also willing to go a long way, but we are not ready to pay any price, certainly not to pay the illusory prices that Hamas demands from us, which would mean defeat for the State of Israel.”

He further emphasized the non-negotiable goal of the military campaign: “We are committed to continuing the war until we achieve all of its goals, which means the elimination of Hamas, the release of all the hostages and the promise that Gaza will no longer pose a threat to Israel. There is no pressure, no pressure, that can change that."

The conflict has seen significant developments, including the discovery of a large cache of weapons in the compound of a U.N. school and a nearby building in Khan Younis, Gaza. This discovery has further complicated the situation on the ground, highlighting the challenges faced by Israeli forces as they navigate the densely populated and politically complex landscape of Gaza.

At the U.N., the United States vetoed a Security Council resolution on Tuesday demanding an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, citing concerns that such a move could jeopardize ongoing negotiations for the release of hostages held by Hamas.

“Brett McGurk is traveling to the region as we speak to have meetings in Cairo tomorrow and then follow on in Israel the next day specifically to see if we can't get this hostage deal in place, which calls for a temporary ceasefire, calls for a humanitarian pause of an extended nature to get all those hostages out,” said John Kirby, U.S. National Security Council spokesman. “And a vote for this resolution today could very well put those negotiations at risk."

The hostage crisis was starkly illustrated by the release of security camera footage by the IDF, showing Shiri Bibas and her two young children, Ariel and baby Kfir, wrapped in a blanket and being led through the streets of Khan Younis on October 7th.

The footage has evoked strong reactions, with Ofri Bibas-Levy, a relative of the youngest hostage, expressing, "When we saw these videos, it really tore our hearts out. It was really difficult to witness Shiri, Ariel, and Kfir in the situation again, after being ripped away from their home in Nir Oz into this hell. Everything still feels unbearable, you can see the inhumanity."

Ofri Bibas-Levy's brother, Yarden Bibas, Shiri's husband, was separately kidnapped while engaging in combat against terrorists and remains in captivity. "We agreed to publish this video so the world cannot forget, cannot look away, cannot in any way make this a routine."

Amidst the military and political developments, Israeli President Isaac Herzog has reaffirmed Israel's commitment to freedom of religion and practice among all its citizens. Herzog stated, "Israel has always, and will always maintain freedom of practice and religion in Jerusalem of course, and in all religious sites around the country, and definitely (on the) Temple Mount, in Mosques, of course pending security considerations and challenges."

This comes as some Israeli lawmakers propose age restrictions for Israeli Muslims' entrance to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem during the upcoming Muslim holy month of Ramadan, when tensions and attacks often rise. Israel has limited West Bank and eastern Jerusalem residents in the past, but this would be a first for Israelis.

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