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No Gaza Ceasefire Until Hamas is Destroyed, Says Netanyahu*

Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has declared that there will be no permanent ceasefire in Gaza until Hamas’ military and governing capabilities are destroyed and all hostages are released. His statement came after U.S. President Joe Biden announced that Israel had proposed a three-stage plan to Hamas aimed at reaching a permanent ceasefire.

Despite Hamas indicating a positive view towards the proposals, Netanyahu’s office reiterated on Saturday that Israel’s conditions for ending the conflict remain unchanged. Israel insists on the destruction of Hamas’ military and governing abilities, the release of all hostages, and ensuring Gaza no longer poses a threat to Israel.

The conflict in Gaza continues with Israeli air strikes reported in the city of Rafah, near the border with Egypt. Negotiations are ongoing, but there is no guarantee that President Biden’s pressure on both sides will result in a deal.

President Biden described the plan as comprehensive, outlining a full ceasefire, withdrawal of Israeli forces from populated areas, and the exchange of some hostages for Palestinian prisoners in the first phase. This would be followed by the return of all living hostages and the remains of any deceased Israeli hostages, along with a major reconstruction plan for Gaza supported by the U.S. and international community.

Despite these efforts, opposition from far-right allies of Netanyahu, who may oppose the proposal and threaten to leave the coalition, remains a significant hurdle. However, opposition leader Yair Lapid has promised to support Netanyahu if he agrees to the ceasefire deal.

Meanwhile, Israeli forces have intensified attacks in Rafah, aiming to secure operational control over the border with Egypt. The Rafah crossing has been closed since early May, restricting aid flows into Gaza.

Since the conflict began in October with a deadly attack by Hamas on Israel, resulting in over 1,200 Israeli deaths and 252 hostages taken to Gaza, more than 36,000 people have been killed in Gaza, according to the Hamas-run health ministry.

U.S., Israeli, and Egyptian officials are scheduled to meet in Cairo on Sunday to discuss reopening the Rafah crossing, as reported by Egyptian media.

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