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Netanyahu hints fresh talks on to rescue more hostages

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday (local time) hinted that fresh talks were on to rescue more hostages held by Hamas in Gaza. He asserted the war against the Palestinian terror group was “existential” that must be fought until victory, despite the “international pressure and unbearable cost”.

Netanyahu’s remarks came after a source told news agency Reuters that Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency chief met with the Prime Minister of Qatar, a country which is mediating in the Israel-Hamas war.

Netanyahu reiterated that Israel would continue to maintain pressure on Hamas in Gaza, and eradicate the group from there. He asserted that the offensive in Gaza had resulted in a partial hostage-release deal last month. “The instruction I am giving the negotiating team is predicated on this pressure, without which we have nothing,” he was quoted as saying by Reuters.

“We are in a war for our existence, in which we must continue until victory, despite the international pressure and despite the unbearable cost that the war is exacting from us in our fallen sons and daughters,” he said.

Here are the top developments of the Israel-Hamas war:

  • While Netanyahu did not directly say that negotiations on a fresh hostage deal were ongoing, he said Israel was now trying to complete the process of recovering the remaining hostages held by Hamas.

    “We have serious criticisms of Qatar. But right now, we are trying to complete the recovery of our hostages,” he said while highlighting the Gulf state’s ties with Iran, Israel’s arch-foe.

  • A source with direct knowledge of the matter said the head of Israel’s Mossad spy agency, David Barnea, met Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani in Europe late on Friday, to discuss the possibility of releasing more hostages.

  • Reacting to the development, Hamas said the hostages wouldn’t be released unless the “Israeli aggression” did not stop in Gaza.

    “We affirm our position not to open any negotiations to exchange prisoners unless the aggression against our people stops once and for all,” adding, “The movement communicated this position to all mediators.”

  • Despite renewed calls from its ally the US to scale down the military operations and focus on top Hamas leaders, Israel carried out strikes across Gaza on Saturday, killing or injuring dozens, according to Palestinian health officials.

    In southern Gaza’s Khan Younis, Nasser Hospital received 20 Palestinians killed in Israeli strikes, in addition to dozens of wounded, Palestinian officials said.

    In Jabalia refugee camp, three dozen people were killed in Israeli strikes on three houses, according to the Palestinian WAFA agency.

  • Yemen’s Houthis, which is backed by Iran, said they attacked the Israeli Red Sea resort of Eilat with several drones on Saturday. The US Central Command said its destroyer Carney had shot down 14 Houthi drones in the Red Sea.

    The UK also said its warship had shot down a suspected drone targeting merchant shipping.