Netanyahu vows to continue war, says Israel committed to end Hamas

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Israel is committed to fighting Hamas until the Iran-backed militant group is eliminated and all the other goals of the war are achieved, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday.

The Israeli leader spoke after an Axios report on Saturday that the Biden administration has circulated amended language for some elements of its proposed deal on hostage releases and a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. Axios cited three people with direct knowledge who weren’t identified.

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Israel’s goals continue to include freeing the remaining hostages held in Gaza and ensuring the area never constitutes a threat to Israel again, Netanyahu said at the start of a weekly cabinet meeting.

The Israeli government also aims to restore security in the areas bordering Gaza and Lebanon so that residents can safely return to their homes, he said.

“To whoever doubts the achieving of these goals, I reiterate: There is no substitute for victory. We will not end the war until we achieve all of these goals,” said Netanyahu.

Israel has been at war with Hamas since Oct. 7, when the group, which is designated as a terrorist organization by the US and Europe, invaded southern Israel, killing about 1,200 people and taking 250 hostages to Gaza. About 120 are still held in Gaza.

Some 37,000 people have been killed in the ensuing war, according to the Gaza Health Ministry, which doesn’t differentiate between civilians and combatants. Hamas is designated as a terrorist organization by the US and the EU.

There’s no change in Israel’s position on hostage releases outlined this month by US President Joe Biden, Netanyahu said, adding that “Hamas is the only obstacle to the release of our hostages.”

In its report on Saturday, Axios said the US is working with Qatari and Egyptian mediators to make changes to what would lead up to discussion in the first stage of a proposed three-stage peace deal, in an effort to get both Israel and Hamas on board.

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