Netanyahu: Claims I am blocking hostage deal are lies; Rafah strike was ‘tragic mishap’

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at the Knesset on May 27, 2024. (Yonatan Sindel/ Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at the Knesset on May 27, 2024. (Yonatan Sindel/ Flash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sounds a defiant note from the Knesset rostrum, vowing to continue fighting in Gaza despite mounting international condemnation of Israel’s offensive in Rafah and rejecting accusations that the government is not negotiating in good faith for the release of hostages held in the Strip.

“Those who say they are not ready to stand up to the pressure raise the flag of defeat; I won’t raise any such flag, I will keep fighting until the flag of victory is raised,” he says. “I don’t intend to end the war before every goal has been achieved. If we give in, the massacre will return. If we give in, we will give a huge win to terror, to Iran.”

Touching on an incident last night in which a strike against two top Hamas commanders appeared to spark a blaze that spread through a tent encampment, killing dozens according to Gazan health authorities, Netanyahu claims that Israel has made attempts to keep civilians safe, evacuating 1 million people from Rafah, where 1.5 million were thought to be gathered before Israel’s offensive.

“Despite our efforts not to hurt them, there was a tragic mishap. We are investigating the incident,” he says. “For us it’s a tragedy, for Hamas it’s a strategy.”

With families of hostages present in the visitors’ gallery holding up pictures of their loved ones and reportedly chanting “now,” in reference to their demand for an immediate deal, Netanyahu denies claims that he and his coalition allies are avoiding reaching an agreement to halt fighting and bring the captives home.

Families of Israelis held hostage by Hamas terrorists in Gaza protest in the Knesset visitors’ gallery on May 27, 2024. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

“I totally reject the idea that I am not giving the negotiating team the mandate it’s requested,” he asserts, claiming he has okayed requests for increased flexibility five times since late December.

“I approved all the suggestions, answered every request,” he claims, a day after a report cited leaked comments from the IDF’s point person to the talks claiming the government was not playing ball.

“These lying leaks that repeat the claim that we are the barrier [to a deal] are lies that not only hurt the families [of hostages], but much worse, push the [hostages’] freedom further off and harm the talks,” he says. “Instead of putting pressure on [Hamas in Gaza leader Yahya] Sinwar, it’s put on the Israeli government.”

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