Families of Gaza hostages storm Israeli parliament session to demand release

JERUSALEM (AP) — Family members of hostages held by Hamas entered a caucus in Israel's parliament Monday to demand a deal to win the release of their loved ones, joining international calls by European foreign ministers to negotiate the creation of Israel. A Palestinian state After the war.

The developments show mounting pressure on the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who dug in at both ends. He has insisted to the Israeli public that the only way to bring the hostages home is to continue the devastating offensive in Gaza. At the same time, he has rejected America's vision for a postwar resolution, saying he would A Palestinian state can never be allowed.

The dispute over the future of Gaza – in the midst of an endless war – pits Israel against its top ally, the United States, and much of the international community. This is a major obstacle to post-war governance or any plan to rebuild much of the coastal region. Israel's bombing made it impossible to live.

In more direct comments from Saudi Arabia, the kingdom's top diplomat said it would not repair relations with Israel or contribute to the reconstruction of Gaza without a credible path to a Palestinian state.

Netanyahu has vowed to continue the offensive until “total victory” over Hamas and return all remaining hostages. October 7 riots in southern Israel It provoked war. In that attack, about 1,200 people were killed and about 250 were kidnapped by Hamas and other militants.

But more than three months into the war, Israelis are increasingly divided on the question Can you do both?.

About 100 hostages were released under a week-long ceasefire in November in exchange for the release of Palestinians held in Israeli jails. About 130 people have been captured, but many are confirmed dead. Hamas has said it will release more prisoners only to end the war and free thousands of Palestinian prisoners. Netanyahu has rejected such a deal.

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Anger is growing among the families of the hostages. Relatives of the hostages and other protesters set up a tent camp outside Netanyahu's residence in Jerusalem, vowing to stay until a deal is reached to bring the rest of the captives home. Other protests have called for new elections.

On Monday, dozens of family members of the hostages stormed into a meeting of the Knesset's finance committee, holding signs and chanting, “You will not sit here while they die!”

“These are our children!” They shouted. “We can't pursue any other agenda, we have only one thing to discuss right now!”

Some had to be physically restrained for shouting at lawmakers, and at least one person was ejected. The meeting adjourned for a while but then resumed.

More than 25,000 people were killed in Gaza

At least 25,295 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed and more than 60,000 injured in Israel's offensive. Gaza Ministry of Health. The ministry did not distinguish between civilians and militants, but said two-thirds of those killed were women and children.

Medics reported heavy fighting in the southern city of Khan Younis, with dozens of dead and wounded brought to the city's already overwhelmed Nasser Hospital. Families were seen fleeing south to areas already packed with hundreds of thousands of displaced people.

The Israeli military claims to have killed around 9,000 fighters, without providing evidence, and blames the higher civilian death toll on Hamas.

85% of Gaza's 2.3 million people have fled their homes. Seeking elusive shelter in the south Israel continues to attack all parts of the besieged area. UN officials say 1 in 4 people in Gaza are starving Fighting and Israeli restrictions have hampered the delivery of humanitarian aid.

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There is also war causing tension throughout the regionIran-backed groups in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen attack Israeli and US targets.

Netanyahu under pressure

Oct. Netanyahu, whose popularity has fallen from 7, faces pressure from the United States to shift to more precise military operations and ease humanitarian aid in Gaza.

The United States is also pushing him on its vision for a post-war Gaza, calling for a reformed Palestinian Authority to govern the territory and the start of negotiations for a two-state solution. The authority currently governs pockets of the Israeli-occupied West Bank and was expelled from Gaza in 2007 when Hamas took power.

But Netanyahu's ruling coalition has backed far-right parties that want to step up the offensive, encourage the “voluntary” resettlement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from Gaza and re-establish Jewish settlements there. Netanyahu rejected the Palestinian Authority's entry into Gaza, saying it would endanger Israel, and ruled out any Palestinian state.

At a meeting on the war in Brussels on Monday, EU foreign ministers added their voices to the calls. A Palestinian stateHe said it was the only way to achieve peace.

French Foreign Minister Stéphane Sejourne said Netanyahu's rejection of statehood was “worrying. All would need a Palestinian state with security guarantees.”

“What other solutions do they have in mind?” EU foreign policy chief Joseph Borrell said about Israel. “Make all the Palestinians leave? Kill them?”

The comments by Saudi Arabia's foreign minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan late Sunday were significant because before the war, the United States tried to broker a key agreement in which Saudi Arabia would normalize ties with Israel. In September, Netanyahu said Israel exists “cusp” A contract.

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In an interview with CNN, anchor Fareed Zakaria asked: “Are you saying unequivocally that relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel cannot be normalized unless there is a credible and irreversible path to a Palestinian state?”

Prince Faisal replied, “Only by that will we benefit. “So, yes.”

Asked if oil-rich Saudi Arabia would fund reconstruction in Gaza, he said “until we find a path to a solution…then we can talk about anything.”

“But we're not interested in that conversation if, as we've seen in the past, we're going to reset to pre-October 7, setting us up for another round of this.”

Palestinians seek a state that includes Gaza, the Israeli-occupied West Bank and annexed East Jerusalem, territories captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle East War.

Israel views all of Jerusalem as its capital and the West Bank as the historical and biblical center of the Jewish people. It built Lots of residences in both areas Home to hundreds of thousands of Jewish settlers. Peace talks broke down about 15 years ago.

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Shurafa reported from Deir al-Bala, Gaza Strip.

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Follow AP's coverage of the Israel-Hamas war: https://apnews.com/hub/israel-hamas-war

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