5:59 pm ET, November 22, 2023
Netanyahu says hostage deal does not include ‘freeing murderers’ from Israel
From Tamar Michaelis, Andrew Carey and Sugam Pokharel
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday that the hostage deal does not “free the killers”.
Most Israelis have welcomed the deal, and Netanyahu said the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and security agencies fully support the deal with Hamas.
“They made it clear at the government meeting yesterday that the security of our forces will be maintained during the pause days,” Netanyahu said during a news conference.
But there is concern from some that the list of Palestinians to be released from Israeli prisons may include those guilty of deadly attacks against Israelis.
Most Palestinians listed as eligible for release 16 to 18 year old male youth – Children under the United Nations definition – some are up to 14 years of age. Some 33 women, according to CNN’s count.
Netanyahu credited the deal’s success to a combination of Israel’s “relentless massive military pressure” on Hamas and the “intense” diplomatic pressure Israel is applying to free hostages held by the militant group.
“We have had tough negotiations and fought to improve the agreement,” Netanyahu said.
He said he spoke with US President Joe Biden on Wednesday and thanked him for working against the mediators to achieve “significant progress on the deal at my request, and such progress has indeed been achieved”.
“I believe in this combination [of diplomatic and military efforts] The next steps will allow the release of additional hostages,” the Prime Minister said.
During the ceasefire, the IDF will prepare for the “continuation” of the war against Hamas, Netanyahu said.
“The battle continues and will continue until all our goals are achieved,” he said.