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Israeli minister calls for full seizure of Gaza Strip

April 14, 2024 at 5:24 pm

Bezalel Smotrich, Israel’s finance minister, during a news conference at the Knesset in Jerusalem, Israel, on Monday, Feb. 5, 2024. [Photographer: Kobi Wolf/Bloomberg via Getty Images]

Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich called on Sunday for imposing a full control over the entire Gaza Strip, Anadolu Agency reports.

Smotrich’s remarks came following an announcement by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office that Hamas’ response to mediators’ proposals for a prisoner exchange deal was negative.

“Giving up on Israel’s red lines and chasing after Hamas for a deal only makes the chance of bringing everyone (hostages) home further away,” the leader of the Religious Zionism party wrote on X.

“It’s time to learn lessons, change direction, … and restore full Israeli control all over the Gaza Strip,” he added.

On Sunday morning, Netanyahu’s office called Hamas’ response to the broad outlines presented by mediators regarding a proposal for a cease-fire with Israel as negative.

“It has been over a week since the Cairo meeting – Hamas has rejected the outline that was tabled by the mediators,” Netanyahu’s office wrote on X.

READ: Netanyahu says Hamas’ response to mediators’ proposals ‘negative’

Hamas is estimated to be holding more than 130 Israeli hostages, while Tel Aviv is holding more than 9,100 Palestinians in its jails.

Hamas demands an end to Israel’s deadly offensive on the Gaza Strip and the withdrawal of the Israeli forces from the territory for any hostage-prisoner swap deal with Tel Aviv.

Israel has killed more than 33,000 Palestinians since an Oct. 7, 2023 cross-border attack by Hamas in which some 1,200 Israelis were killed and around 250 hostages taken.

A previous deal in November saw the release of 81 Israelis and 24 foreigners in exchange for 240 Palestinians, including 71 women and 169 children.

The US, Qatar and Egypt have tried to broker an agreement to release the remaining Israeli captives.

The conflict has pushed 85% of Gaza’s population into internal displacement amid acute shortages of food, clean water, and medicine, while 60% of the enclave’s infrastructure has been damaged or destroyed.​​​​​​​

Global calls for a cease-fire have been growing as the war has entered its seventh month.

READ: 5 killed as Israeli army shells hundreds of displaced Palestinians returning to northern Gaza