Israel will ‘not leave anyone behind,’ preparing for Rafah offensive, PM tells families of soldiers held hostage in Gaza

Sam Sokol is the Times of Israel's political correspondent. He was previously a reporter for the Jerusalem Post, Jewish Telegraphic Agency and Haaretz. He is the author of "Putin’s Hybrid War and the Jews"

Speaking at a meeting with the families of IDF soldiers held hostage by Hamas, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promises to “not leave anyone behind.”

“I know that every day that passes is hell,” he tells the families, according to a readout from his office. “Your sons are our heroes. Israel’s heroes.”

Netanyahu tells the families only military pressure will secure the release of the hostages, declaring that Israel is “preparing to enter Rafah.”

“I deal with it day and night personally. Only the continuation of the powerful military pressure that we exerted and will exert… will return everyone,” he states.

“We conquered the north of the Gaza Strip and Khan Younis. We have secured the strip, and we are preparing to enter Rafah,” he continues, insisting that all of Israel’s assets must be “used wisely in the negotiations that I conduct myself every day.”

Netanyahu’s comments come only days after Jerusalem recalled its negotiating team from Qatar after Hamas rejected its latest offer in talks on a hostage deal and truce.

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