Web Stories Saturday, February 24

PARLIAMENTARY COMMITTEE STORMED

US intelligence agencies have estimated that the Israeli campaign has killed “around 20 per cent to 30 per cent” of Hamas fighters and is still far from its goal of destroying the Islamist movement, the Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday.

In a video statement issued after the Hamas report, Netanyahu said “our soldiers have fallen in vain” and security would not be guaranteed if Israel accepted Hamas’s demands for the release of hostages.

These included ending the war, withdrawing Israeli forces from Gaza, releasing Palestinian prisoners and guaranteeing that Hamas would stay in power, he said.

Netanyahu is under intense pressure to return the captives and account for security failings surrounding the Oct 7 attacks.

Hamas militants seized about 250 hostages and Israel says around 132 remain in Gaza. This includes the bodies of at least 28 dead hostages, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli data.

Relatives and supporters of the captives have held regular rallies and on Monday upped their pressure by storming a parliamentary finance committee meeting, where they shouted and brandished signs.

In a bid to secure a new hostage exchange deal, US media said the United States coordinator for the Middle East, Brett McGurk, was due to meet top officials in Cairo on Monday, followed by a trip to Qatar.

The three countries helped broker a one-week truce in late November that saw 80 hostages freed in exchange for 240 Palestinian prisoners in Israel.

Rising tensions and violence across the Middle East – involving Iran-backed groups in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria and Yemen – have stoked fears of a wider conflagration.

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