ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 142

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Netanyahu vows Israel won’t free ‘thousands of terrorists,’ won’t pull IDF out of Gaza, amid hostage deal push

Lazar Berman is The Times of Israel's diplomatic reporter

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at the Bnei David military academy in the West Bank settlement of Eli, January 30, 2023. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at the Bnei David military academy in the West Bank settlement of Eli, January 30, 2023. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)

As reports emerge about a hostage framework deal with Hamas that includes an extended pause in the fighting and the freeing of a large number of security prisoners, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tells students at a pre-military academy in the West Bank that Israel will not release “thousands of terrorists” and won’t withdraw the IDF from Gaza.

Israeli media reported yesterday that Israel had assented to a framework that would see hundreds of Palestinian prisoners released for each hostage. Netanyahu’s office did not deny reports of a potential framework deal, but said some of its reported elements were inaccurate.

In his speech Tuesday, Netanyahu says of the ongoing war against Hamas: “This is not another round, not another exchange of strikes, not another operation.” Rather, he says, Israel is insistent on “a complete victory.”

“Nothing less than that” will be acceptable, Netanyahu tells the Bnei David military academy in Eli. “I am committed to it, our fighters are committed to it, and the absolute majority of the people are committed to it. We will not settle for less than total victory.”

Turning to the reports of a potential hostage deal in the context of the war, Netanyahu says that Israel “will not end this war with less than the achievement of all its goals. This means the elimination of Hamas, the return of all our hostages, and the promise that Gaza will no longer pose a threat to Israel.”

“We will not remove the IDF from the Gaza Strip and we will not release thousands of terrorists,” he pledges. “None of this will happen. What will happen? Absolute victory!”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at the Bnei David military academy in the West Bank settlement of Eli, January 30, 2023. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)

Protesters in the settlement and along the route from Jerusalem held signs decrying the provision of humanitarian aid to Gaza and the potential release of terrorists.

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