Conflicts & War

Netanyahu vows to continue war in Gaza despite pressure from hostages’ families

Sara Gomez Armas

Jerusalem / Tel Aviv, Jan 13 (EFE). – As the war in the Gaza Strip approaches 100 days, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to continue “until victory” despite pressure from the families of the 136 hostages remaining in the enclave, who called a massive 24-hour protest to demand an agreement for their immediate return.

“No one will stop us – not The Hague, not the axis of evil, and no one else. It is possible and necessary to continue until victory, and we will do it,” the prime minister said in a televised statement on the eve of the 100th day of the war.

The prime minister was referring to the open genocide trial at the ICJ at the request of South Africa, which has called for a ceasefire.

Netanyahu also repeatedly referred to the “axis of evil,” lumping together Hamas, the Lebanese Shiite militia Hezbollah, and Yemen’s Houthis, groups backed by Iran that have launched numerous attacks on Israel in recent months.

Israel’s chief of staff, Herzi Halevi, made statements along the same lines as the Israeli army on Saturday approved a plan for the Southern Command, which continues fighting Gaza.

“Pressure that will lead to the dismantling of Hamas and the return of the hostages. This pressure, and only it, has so far managed to bring about the return of many hostages,” Halevi said in a press statement.

Netanyahu and Halevi spoke minutes before the start of a massive 24-hour protest.

The demonstration was called to mark the 100th day of the war by the families of the hostages, who are demanding that the government reach an agreement that will allow them to bring their loved ones home.

“Time is running out” was the most repeated message, as of the 136 prisoners remaining in the enclave, an estimated 25 are dead, in addition to 11 hostages whose bodies were recovered by Israeli troops during the ground offensive.

More than 120,000 people took part in the demonstration, which will continue until 8:00 pm local time on Sunday.

US Ambassador Jacob Lew spoke in solidarity with the hostages, as did French President Emmanuel Macron in a video message.

Israeli President Isaac Herzog is also expected to attend, as are the freed hostages, Daniel Aloni and Raz Ben Ami, and relatives of those still inside.

Other protests have been called in Tel Aviv and other cities such as Jerusalem, Haifa, Netanya, and Caesarea to demand early elections and the removal of Netanyahu from power by those dissatisfied with his handling of the security crisis and his refusal to negotiate another ceasefire to free the rest of the captives.

Sunday marks the 100th day of the war, following the brutal Hamas attack on Oct. 7 that started the war and left more than 1,200 dead and some 250 kidnapped.

Meanwhile, Israeli attacks on Gaza continue and the humanitarian crisis is worsening.

At least 135 people have died in the past few hours, most of them in the Khan Yunis area, where the fighting is concentrated.

The death toll stands at more than 23,800 – in addition to an estimated 8,000 bodies buried under the rubble – and 60,300 wounded, according to the Hamas-controlled Gaza Health Ministry.

The Hamas government said Saturday that 1,300 trucks of food are needed daily to meet the needs of 800,000 people at risk of starvation in the north of the strip alone.

“This war affected more than 2 million people – the entire population of Gaza. Many will carry lifelong scars, both physical and psychological,” denounced the UN Refugee Agency (UNRWA), whose saturated centers host more than 1.4 million Gazans.

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