Israel denies reports that it will end war for hostage deal with Hamas

The IDF is still reportedly considering plans to take Rafah


TEL AVIV, ISRAEL - MAY 4: Families of hostages held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip and supporters march during a demonstration calling for an hostages deal with Hamas and against the Israeli government on May 4, 2024 in Tel Aviv, Israel. International mediators brokering ceasefire negotiations between Israel and Hamas sounded optimistic notes today as a delegation from the Palestinian militant group returned to Cairo to consider the latest proposal.(Photo by Amir Levy/Getty Images)

Israeli officials on Saturday night vehemently denied reports that the government has agreed to end the war against Hamas as part of an emerging hostage deal.

According to the reports, the Biden administration had conveyed guarantees to Hamas that the deal currently being discussed would culminate with a full Israel Defense Forces withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.

"Contrary to reports, Israel will under no circumstances agree to the end of the war as part of an agreement to release our hostages,” an official in Jerusalem was quoted as saying by Hebrew-language media.

“The IDF will enter Rafah and destroy the remaining Hamas battalions there—with or without a temporary respite to allow for the release of our hostages,” added the source.

Hamas terrorists killed 1,200 people and abducted 252 people during the Oct. 7 massacre; they are still holding 132 captives.

On Friday, a Hamas delegation trave;led to Cairo to discuss the latest proposal, hours after CIA Director William Burns arrived in the Egyptian capital.

The deal reportedly includes a first phase lasting 40 days during which up to 33 Israeli hostages would be freed in exchange for an IDF withdrawal from several areas of Gaza.

Israel is reportedly seeking the release of 33 female, elderly and sick hostages during the initial phase, while Hamas recently hardened its position and is seeking to release only 20 captives that meet the criteria.

The second phase would reportedly last 42 days and include the release of all other living Israeli hostages and arrangements for a prolonged truce. The final phase would also last six weeks and include the exchange of bodies.

Hundreds of Palestinians terrorists would be released from Israeli jails over the course of the agreement, according to Hebrew-language media reports.

Egyptian, Qatari and American mediators are aiming to complete the deal by the end of this week.

During his trip to Israel last week, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the current proposal features “very important compromises” by Jerusalem.

“There’s no time for further haggling. The deal is there. They [Hamas] should take it,” he said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly rejected as "delusional" Hamas's demand that the Jewish state end the war in Gaza.

On Tuesday, the premier insisted that the IDF will enter Hamas's stronghold of Rafah in southern Gaza irrespective of the outcome of hostage negotiations.

“The notion that we will stop the war before achieving all of its goals is out of the question,” said Netanyahu during a meeting with the Heroism Forum, which represents bereaved IDF families, and the Tikva Forum for Families of Hostages.

The military “will enter Rafah and eliminate the Hamas battalions there—with or without a deal—to achieve total victory,” he added.

Blinken met with Netanyahu on Wednesday to discuss "the need to avoid further expansion of the conflict, and updated the prime minister on ongoing efforts to ensure a lasting, sustainable peace in the region,” according to the U.S. State Department.

The top American diplomat reiterated the Biden administration's opposition to a military incursion into Rafah.

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