Wed 21 Feb 2024 9:11 pm - Jerusalem Time

Gantz talks about "indicators" of the possibility of proceeding with a prisoner exchange deal

Minister of the Israeli War Council, Benny Gantz, said that there are ongoing attempts to reach a new prisoner exchange deal with the Palestinian factions, and there are initial indications of the possibility of moving forward with it.

This came in a press conference held by Gantz, head of the opposition National Unity Party, on Wednesday evening.

He said: "There is no stone left unturned in order to achieve the mission of returning the abductees, which concerns the entire Israeli society, and for which the leadership bears responsibility."

He added: "There are attempts these days to push for a new deal, and initial signs indicate the possibility of moving forward. We will not stop searching for the way (for the Israeli prisoners detained in Gaza), and we will not waste any opportunity to return the girls and boys to their homes."

Gantz continued: “On the battlefield, we are embarking on an operation in Rafah (south of the Gaza Strip), which will begin after the area is evacuated of residents (displaced Palestinians).”

He went on to say: "The importance of clearing Rafah lies in the ability to strike Hamas forces operating there, and the need to disarm the Gaza Strip."

He continued threateningly: "I repeat, if there is no deal to return the kidnapped people, we will (continue the war on the Gaza Strip) also during the month of Ramadan."

Gantz said: “Today (Wednesday) we voted in the Knesset (Parliament) by a large majority on a resolution opposing the unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state.”

He added, "After October 7, it would be wrong to provide such support (a Palestinian state) to terrorism. Political settlements must be made directly, otherwise they will not be sustainable."

According to Gantz: “In any future situation, Israel will maintain its superiority and ability to conduct security operations in the entire Gaza Strip. Our mission is 100 percent security control without civilian control.”

He said that "many parties can operate civilianly in the Gaza Strip, but not Hamas."

He continued: "We will not allow the killers to return to control the places where the Israeli army was operating, and we are studying a number of options until aid is delivered to Gaza through an international administration from moderate Arab countries with the support of the United States."

Gantz added: “We are working to strengthen the moderate axis in confronting Iran, and to establish a regional administration that will help the Palestinians form another ruling system in Gaza, and ensure that investments are also directed to changing school curricula, as our friends did in the United Arab Emirates.”

Gantz touched on what was raised about the Israeli government adopting decisions to restrict the entry of Palestinians to Al-Aqsa Mosque in East Jerusalem during the upcoming month of Ramadan.

He claimed that "Israel respects freedom of worship, and will work to allow the largest possible number of believers to ascend to the Holy Mosque in safety and security during the month of Ramadan. Even in light of the security situation, we will preserve religious freedom and the sanctity of the month and will only move against those who expose us to danger."


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Gantz talks about "indicators" of the possibility of proceeding with a prisoner exchange deal