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The announcement of the ceasefire plan said Hamas would have to withdraw from Gaza but gave no reference to the group's "destruction". Alamy Stock Photo
Israeli PM

Netanyahu insists on 'destruction of Hamas' before commencement of permanent ceasefire in Gaza

The Israeli Prime Minister’s statement comes after US President Joe Biden outlined a plan to end the conflict in Gaza.

LAST UPDATE | 1 Jun

THERE WILL BE no permanent ceasefire in Gaza until Hamas is destroyed, a statement from the office of the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said this morning.

The statement comes after US President Joe Biden yesterday outlined a three-part plan by Israel to put an end to the conflict in Gaza, which has so far resulted in the death of 36,284 people, mostly civilians, according to the Hamas-run health ministry in the region.

Taoiseach Simon Harris welcomed the deal this afternoon, saying that all parties should give the ceasefire plan “serious and positive consideration”. “This is an opportunity that should not be missed. It is long past time for the suffering to end,” he added.

Today, Netanyahu’s office insisted that part of the three-phase plan also includes the “destruction” of Hamas, and that a permanent ceasefire would not be upheld until Israel achieves that goal.

Phase one of the plan would include a six-week ceasefire, the withdrawal of Israeli forces from populated regions of Gaza and the release of female, elderly and wounded hostages in exchange for Palestinian prisoners in Israel.

The second phase includes the release of the remaining 121 hostages, who are still in Gaza after they were taken by Hamas during the 7 October attacks, and the full withdrawal of Israeli troops from Gaza.

The third phase looks to the reconstruction of Gaza, without a Hamas-backed authority in charge, and returning of the hostages to their families where there will be a permanent ceasefire implemented.

However, the office of the Israeli Prime Minister today said that permanent ceasefire will not commence until the Hamas militant-group is eradicated.

“Israel’s conditions for ending the war have not changed,” a statement said. “The destruction of Hamas military and governing capabilities, the freeing of all hostages and ensuring that Gaza no longer poses a threat to Israel.”

“Under the proposal, Israel will continue to insist these conditions are met before a permanent ceasefire is put in place. The notion that Israel will agree to a permanent ceasefire before these conditions are fulfilled is a non-starter.”

The announcement of the three-phase ceasefire plan, which Biden yesterday said was that of Israel’s, began by saying that Hamas would have to part-take in a “complete withdrawal” of Gaza but gave no reference to the militant group’s “destruction”.

Hamas has said it “views positively” the plan laid out by Biden yesterday and media reports suggest that Egypt will soon host Israeli and US officials to discuss the reopening of the Rafah crossing.

Talks on reopening of Rafah crossing to begin – media 

The Rafah crossing, near to the city of Rafah where the UN says over one million displaced Palestinians were seeking refuge before Israel began strikes and offences of the area, is a vital conduit for aid into the besieged Gaza Strip.

Since the shelling of Rafah began, more than one million Palestinians have fled the area, according to the UN’s Palestinian-refugee agency, UNWRA.

Al-Qahera News, which has links to Egyptian intelligence, quoted a unidentified senior official as saying Cairo was demanding “a total Israeli withdrawal” from the terminal on Gaza’s southern border with Egypt.

“An Egyptian-American-Israeli meeting is scheduled for tomorrow in Cairo to discuss the reopening of the Rafah crossing”, the official said.

Such plans have not ended hostilities in Rafah, however. Israeli forces hammered the city in southern Gaza with tanks and artillery this morning, just hours after Biden’s announcement.

file-palestinians-fleeing-from-the-southern-gaza-city-of-rafah-during-an-israeli-ground-and-air-offensive-in-the-city-may-28-2024-defense-experts-whove-reviewed-debris-images-from-an-israeli-air UNWRA has said that more than one million Palestinians have left Rafah since the beginning of the shelling in the region. Alamy (file image) Alamy (file image)

Residents reported tank fire in the Tal al-Sultan neighbourhood in west Rafah, while witnesses in the east and centre of Rafah described intense artillery shelling.

“From the early hours of the night until this morning, the aerial and artillery bombardment has not stopped for a single moment”, a resident from west Rafah told AFP on condition of anonymity.

The conflict in Gaza was sparked by Hamas’ 7 October attack on southern Israel, last year, which resulted in the deaths of 1,189 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli official figures.

Militants also took 252 hostages, 121 of whom remain in Gaza, including 37 the army says are dead.

Contains reporting from © AFP 2024

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