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Israeli Minister Bezalel Smotrich. (Image: Palestine Chronicle)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff  

“The time has come for the Mossad to return to doing what it was trained to do – to eliminate the heads of Hamas all over the world.”

Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich has called on the Mossad intelligence agency to “eliminate” the leaders of the Palestinian Resistance movement Hamas and to completely destroy the Gaza Strip.

“The time has come for the Mossad to return to doing what it was trained to do – to eliminate the heads of Hamas all over the world and not in negotiations that are conducted irresponsibly and harm Israel’s security,” Smotrich said on X on Thursday.

His remarks followed local media reports detailing an Israeli initiative proposed by negotiators that was presented to the Security Cabinet regarding a prisoner exchange deal with Hamas, according to the Anadolu news agency.

“With Hamas from now on we should only talk with shells and bombs,” Smotrich added.

He also called for Israeli forces to enter the southern Gaza town of Rafah ”as fast and as strongly as possible,” adding “and then continue with the Strip until its complete destruction.”

“This is essential for Israel’s security and it is also the only chance to return the abductees. Enough for wasting time and shuffling,” continued Smotrich.

New Proposed Deal

Israel’s war cabinet revealed a new proposed deal Thursday for a prisoner exchange with Hamas and a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, according to Israeli media.

The new initiative, which hasn’t been officially announced yet, reportedly demands that Hamas release over 20 Israeli captives, Anadolu reported, citing Israel’s Channel 13.

The deal may not encompass the release of the 40 hostages Israel had sought in previous weeks, according to the channel.

The channel alleged that Egypt is gearing up to push for the deal, with an Egyptian envoy set to arrive in Israel on Friday to discuss the details. However, there has been no official statement from Cairo on the channel’s report as yet, reported Anadolu.

Qatar, Egypt and the US are trying to reach a hostage swap deal and cease-fire in Gaza as the first pause in fighting lasted only a week in late November last year. This 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.

Hamas demands an end to Israel’s deadly offensive on Gaza and the withdrawal of Israeli forces from the territory for any hostage-prisoner swap deal with Tel Aviv.

Threats to PA

Smotrich on Thursday also called for the Palestinian Authority to be toppled if it continues to seek recognition at the UN and the arrest of Israelis by international bodies, Israeli media reported, according to the Middle East Monitor (MEMO).

In an open letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Smotrich also warned that if orders are issued to arrest senior Israeli officials and soldiers, he will halt the transfer of funds to the PA.

The PA “draws encouragement and legitimacy for its actions from the Biden administration’s turning its back on Israel in legal contexts through the imposition of sanctions on the settlers, and apparently also on the IDF, as well as from the harsh tones of the leaders of European countries against Israel in the context of the war in Gaza,” the Times of Israel quoted Smotrich saying.

The paper said the letter came “the day after the US State Department denounced as ‘dangerous and reckless’ Smotrich’s reported plans to legalize dozens of currently illegal West Bank settlement outposts.”

Settler Sanctions

Washington as well as the European Union have issued sanctions against extremist Jewish settlers and organizations in the West Bank, citing serious human rights abuses against Palestinians.

Under the terms of the 1993 Oslo Accords, Israel collects tax on behalf of the Palestinians and makes monthly transfers to the PA pending the approval of the Ministry of Finance.

Israel has repeatedly withheld some or all of the tax money claiming it is being used to “fund terrorism” without providing evidence for its claims, reported MEMO.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken was poised to announce sanctions against the Israeli army’s ‘Netzah Yehuda’ battalion for human rights violations in the occupied West Bank, the American news website Axios reported.

However, the US has since decided that three military battalions, including Netzah Yehuda, will not be sanctioned, the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) reported on Friday.

According to ABC, the battalions will remain eligible for US military aid “because of steps Israel says it’s taking to address the problem.”

Gaza Death Toll

Currently on trial before the International Court of Justice for genocide against Palestinians, Israel has been waging a devastating war on Gaza since October 7.

According to Gaza’s Ministry of Health, 34,356 Palestinians have been killed, and 77,368 wounded in Israel’s ongoing genocide in Gaza starting on October 7.

Moreover, at least 7,000 people are unaccounted for, presumed dead under the rubble of their homes throughout the Strip.

Palestinian and international organizations say that the majority of those killed and wounded are women and children.

The Israeli war has resulted in an acute famine, mostly in northern Gaza, resulting in the death of many Palestinians, mostly children.

The Israeli aggression has also resulted in the forceful displacement of nearly two million people from all over the Gaza Strip, with the vast majority of the displaced forced into the densely crowded southern city of Rafah near the border with Egypt – in what has become Palestine’s largest mass exodus since the 1948 Nakba.

Israel says that 1,200 soldiers and civilians were killed during the Al-Aqsa Flood Operation on October 7. Israeli media published reports suggesting that many Israelis were killed on that day by ‘friendly fire’.

(PC, Anadolu, MEMO)

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