Families of Israeli: We will “Burn the Country’ if Hostage Swap Deal not Reached soon

Israelis block the Ayalon highway in Tel Aviv during a protest against the Israeli government's planned judicial overhaul on March 26, 2023. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Tel Aviv, MINA – Families of Israeli hostages in the Gaza Strip threatened on Saturday that if a hostage swap deal with Hamas is not reached soon, “we will burn the country”. Anadolu Agency reports.

The families held a news conference in Tel Aviv’s Kaplan Square and said that “there is a deal on the table that can be made,” according to the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth.

They refused to stand or plead, threatening to “burn the country” if a deal was not reached, the daily said.

The families and thousands of protesters chanted: “Agree now,” according to the daily.

Earlier Saturday, the families blamed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for impeding negotiations.

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According to Yedioth Ahronoth, the families said in a statement outside the Ministry of Defense headquarters in Tel Aviv that, “Netanyahu leaves them no choice, as he rejects proposals and takes a hardline stance, preventing an Israeli proposal in the negotiations,” describing the premier’s behavior as “a crime and unimaginable.”

They have no choice but to work on replacing Netanyahu as soon as possible to reach an agreement with Hamas, the families said.

They urged other members of the government and its coalition partners, including ultra-Orthodox Jewish parties, to help them free their loved ones, according to the newspaper.

The Israeli negotiating delegation is expected to depart for Cairo, Egypt, on Sunday to discuss the hostage swap agreement before continuing to the Qatari capital, Doha.

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Qatar, Egypt and the US are trying to reach a hostage swap deal and a cease-fire in Gaza, as the first pause lasted only one week in late November, which resulted in limited aid entering the Gaza Strip, as well as exchanges of Israeli hostages for Palestinian prisoners, mostly women and children detained in Israeli jails.

Tel Aviv currently holds at least 9,100 Palestinian prisoners in its jails, while there are an estimated 134 Israeli hostages in Gaza. Hamas has announced the death of 70 captives in random Israeli airstrikes.

Israel has waged a deadly military offensive on Gaza since October 7, 2023. More than 32,700 Palestinians, mostly women and children, have since been killed in Gaza, in addition to mass destruction, displacement and famine conditions. (T/RE1/P2)

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Mi’raj News Agency (MINA)