Blinken Meets With Netanyahu As Ceasefire Demands Escalate

Secretary of State Antony Blinken was back in Israel last week to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in hopes of securing a ceasefire agreement in Gaza, the Associated Press reported.

The Secretary insisted that reaching an agreement between Hamas and Israel was still possible, despite the two parties still being at odds on the key terms of a deal.

On February 7, Prime Minister Netanyahu rejected a plan presented by Hamas that called for a permanent end to hostilities and the release of the hostages in exchange for hundreds of Palestinians currently imprisoned in Israel, including senior members of Palestinian terror groups.

The prime minister described the Hamas proposal as “delusional” and argued that the best way to free the remaining hostages in Gaza was through military pressure.

Netanyahu has dismissed any plan that would allow Hamas to retain either full or partial control of the Gaza Strip. Israeli officials have made the destruction of Hamas the central objective of the war, and the Hamas proposal would have allowed the Iranian-backed terror group to remain in power and given it time to rebuild its combat capabilities.

However, Secretary Blinken was undeterred by the stalemate, telling reporters that it was all part of the negotiation process. He conceded that the Hamas proposal included “some clear non-starters,” but added that it still allowed for “space” in which an agreement could be reached.

Blinken vowed to continue working “relentlessly” until a ceasefire agreement was made.

Israeli special forces launched a raid in the southern Gaza town of Rafah early Monday morning to rescue two hostages held by Hamas.

According to IDF spokesman Daniel Hagari, the two hostages, both from Argentina, were being held on the second floor of an apartment building under Hamas guard. Special forces retrieved the hostages from the apartment under the cover of airstrikes.

Both hostages were airlifted to Sheba Hospital in Israel where they were listed in good condition.