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A ceasefire with Hamas: Neither possible nor desirable

1 min

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hardened his rejection of Hamas demands for an end to the Gaza war in exchange for the freeing of hostages, saying on Sunday that would keep the Palestinian Islamist group in power and pose a threat to Israel.

Israeli soldiers and medics walk near an ambulance after Palestinian Islamist group Hamas claimed responsibility for an attack on Kerem Shalom crossing, near Israel's border with Gaza in southern Israel, May 5, 2024. Reuters/Amir Cohen

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hardened his rejection of Hamas demands for an end to the Gaza war in exchange for the freeing of hostages, saying on Sunday that would keep the Palestinian Islamist group in power and pose a threat to Israel.

Netanyahu said Israel was willing to pause fighting in Gaza in order to secure the release of hostages still being held by Hamas, believed to number more than 130.

"But while Israel has shown willingness, Hamas remains entrenched in its extreme positions, first among them the demand to remove all our forces from the Gaza Strip, end the war, and leave Hamas in power," Netanyahu said.

"Israel cannot accept that."

"Hamas would be able to achieve its promise of carrying out again and again and again its massacres, rapes and kidnapping."

The armed wing of Palestinian Islamist group Hamas claimed responsibility on Sunday for an attack on the Kerem Shalom crossing between Israel and Gaza, which Israeli and Palestinian media reports said had resulted in Israeli casualties.

Israel's military said 10 projectiles were launched from Rafah in southern Gaza towards the crossing, which it said was now closed to aid trucks going into the coastal enclave. However, other crossings remain open.

Hamas' armed wing said it fired rockets at an Israeli army base by the crossing, but did not confirm where it fired them from. Hamas media quoted a source close to the group saying the commercial crossing was not the target.

More than a million Palestinians are sheltering in Rafah, near the border with Egypt.

Sunday's attack on the crossing came as hopes dimmed for ceasefire talks underway in Cairo.

Reporting by Ari Rabinovitch, Maytaal Angel and Nidal al-Mughrabi

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