Netanyahu rules out ceasefire in Gaza until Hamas releases all hostages


Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected calls for a ceasefire in Gaza until all hostages captured by Hamas are released.

The hardline Israeli prime minister ruled out a pause in the war unless Hamas returns 240 hostages taken on October 7.

“There will be no ceasefire without the return of our hostages, we say this to both our enemies and our friends. We will continue until we beat them,” Mr Netanyahu told air and ground crews at the Ramon air force base in southern Israel, reiterating the government’s position.

His comments come as US Secretary of State Antony Blinken made a surprise visit to the West Bank as he continued to push for a humanitarian pause to protect civilians in Gaza.

Mr Blinken held talks with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in which he "reaffirmed the US' commitment to the delivery of life-saving humanitarian assistance and resumption of essential services" in Gaza.

During the meeting, Mr Abbas said that there must be an "immediate ceasefire" and humanitarian aid allowed to enter the Gaza Strip, his spokesperson Nabil Abu Rudeineh told Reuters news agency.

He added: "I have no words to describe the genocide and destruction suffered by our Palestinian people in Gaza at the hands of Israel's war machine, with no regard for the principles of international law."

It comes as the UK Government said it remains “hopeful” that the Rafah crossing will reopen on Sunday to allow more British nationals to leave Gaza.

Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden told the BBC’s Sunday With Laura Kuenssberg programme: “It is very disappointing that the crossing was closed yesterday. We are engaging very closely and we are hopeful that the crossing will reopen again today, enabling further UK nationals to leave the situation.”