Netanyahu says at least 13,000 ‘terrorists’ among Palestinians killed

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Written By Pinang Driod

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, in Jerusalem, February 18, 2024. REUTER

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has told a German newspaper that at least 13,000 “terrorists” were among Palestinians killed during Israel’s air and ground assault on Gaza.

Five months into Israel’s campaign following the Oct. 7 Hamas-led attack on southern Israel, Palestinian health authorities say nearly 31,000 Palestinians have been killed.

The Gaza health ministry does not break down the death toll between civilians and Hamas militants but has said that 72% of those killed were women and children. Hamas dismisses Israeli figures for militants killed as attempts to portray “fake victories”.

In an interview with Germany’s Bild newspaper, Netanyahu was quoted as saying that an extension of Israel’s offensive into Rafah in southern Gaza was key to defeating Hamas.

“We are very close to victory … Once we begin military action against the remaining terror battalions in Rafah, it is only a question of weeks” until the intensive phase of fighting is concluded, he said.

Three quarters of Hamas battalions had been destroyed and halting the offensive now would only allow them to regroup, Bild quoted Netanyahu as saying.

Bild made excerpts of the interview, which was jointly held with Politico and German broadcaster Welt TV, available to Reuters on Sunday.

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