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Netanyahu: Hamas to face ‘painful blows’ in the coming days

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(JNS)  Israel will inflict “painful blows” on Hamas in the coming days in an attempt to free the remaining 133 hostages held by the terrorist group in the Gaza Strip, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday.

“Why is this night different, citizens of Israel? That on this night, 133 of our dear brothers and sisters are not at the seder table and are still held captive in the inferno of Hamas,” he said in his Passover remarks.

“We have already freed 124 of our hostages and we are committed to returning them all home—the living and the fallen,” continued the premier.

“And what is not different about this night? In every generation, they rise up to destroy us, but the Holy One, Blessed be He, delivers us from their hands,” he said, adding: “This time, too, we will overcome those who seek our lives, thanks to our faith, the courage of our soldiers and our unity.”

Comparing Hamas to the biblical villain Pharaoh, Netanyahu noted that Hamas is the only obstacle to reaching a ceasefire-for-hostages deal. “It hardens its heart and refuses to let our people go; therefore, we will bring it more painful blows—and it will happen soon,” he said.

The premier vowed to “increase the military and diplomatic pressure on Hamas, as this is the only way to free our hostages and achieve victory.”

“Together we will fight, and with God’s help, we will win. A kosher Passover to all of the Jewish people,” concluded Netanyahu’s remarks.

Preparing for operations in Rafah

Israel’s War Cabinet was set to convene on Sunday evening to discuss the deadlock in hostage release negotiations following the response by Hamas to a proposal from the United States.

The meeting was supposed to take place last week but was postponed due to the Iranian attack on Israel. It is being held at the behest of Ministers-without-Portfolio Benny Gantz and Gadi Eizenkot.

Also on Sunday, Arab media reported significant airstrikes in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, where Hamas’s final terror battalions are holed up and where the senior leadership and remaining hostages are believed to be. The Israel Defense Forces did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Last week, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant held a briefing to discuss “a series of measures to be taken in preparation for operations in Rafah, with an emphasis on the evacuation of civilians and the expansion of activities related to the delivery of food and medical equipment,” his office said.

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