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Israel pledges to persist in battle until triumph as Hamas frees two American captives.

Netanyahu Vows to Continue Fighting in Gaza Despite Hostage Release

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu remains committed to continuing the military offensive in Gaza, even after Hamas released two American hostages.

Netanyahu’s statement comes after the Islamist group Hamas released U.S. mother and daughter, Judith and Natalie Raanan, who were kidnapped during an attack on southern Israel on October 7th. This marks the first release of hostages since the conflict began, which has resulted in the deaths of 1,400 people, mostly civilians, and the capture of around 200 hostages by Hamas gunmen.

In a late-night statement, Netanyahu expressed his determination to bring back all abducted and missing people while emphasizing the need to “fight until victory.” Despite international calls for a ceasefire, Israel has amassed tanks and troops near the Gaza border in preparation for a ground invasion. The ongoing bombardment has already claimed the lives of at least 4,137 Palestinians, including hundreds of children, and displaced over a million people, according to Palestinian officials.

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Questions Surrounding Hostage Release and Invasion Plans

When questioned by reporters, U.S. President Joe Biden was asked if he believed Israel should delay its invasion until more hostages could be released. Biden responded with a simple “Yes,” although the White House later clarified that he did not fully hear the question.

Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Gallant acknowledged that achieving their objectives would not be an easy or swift process. He stated that their goal is to dismantle Hamas, destroy its military and governing infrastructure, and create a secure environment for Israel. However, he warned that this phase would take time and come at a cost.

Release of American Hostages and Ongoing Violence

After their release, an image obtained by Reuters showed the two freed hostages, Judith and Natalie Raanan, surrounded by Israeli soldiers and holding hands with Gal Hirsch, Israel’s coordinator for captives and missing persons.

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Hamas spokesperson Abu Ubaida stated that the release was a result of Qatari mediation efforts, aiming to disprove the claims made by President Biden and his administration. However, the violence continues, with Israeli airstrikes hitting six homes in northern Gaza, resulting in the deaths of at least eight Palestinians and injuring 45 others, according to Palestinian media reports.

The Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem reported that the Church of Saint Porphyrius in Gaza City, where Christians and Muslims sought refuge, was also targeted by Israeli forces. As a result, concerns about civilian casualties and the destruction of infrastructure continue to grow.

International Response and Calls for Ceasefire

While many Western leaders have expressed support for Israel’s campaign against Hamas, there is increasing international concern about the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Muslim countries, in particular, have called for an immediate ceasefire, and protests demanding an end to the bombardment have taken place across the Islamic world.

The United Nations humanitarian affairs office has reported that nearly a third of all homes in Gaza, equivalent to over 140,000 residences, have been damaged, with nearly 13,000 completely destroyed. Efforts are underway to deliver aid through the Rafah crossing to Egypt, the only access point not controlled by Israel. President Biden has expressed confidence that aid trucks will reach Gaza within the next 24-48 hours.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres visited the checkpoint on Egypt’s side and called for a meaningful number of trucks to enter Gaza daily. He also emphasized the need for quick and pragmatic checks to allow aid to reach those in need.

The situation in Gaza remains dire, with ongoing violence and destruction affecting the lives of thousands of Palestinians. The international community continues to monitor the situation closely and call for a peaceful resolution to the conflict.

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