Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Prime Minister Benjamin NetanyahuGPO

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu published a statement ahead of the Passover holiday in which he affirmed that Israel would increase pressure on Hamas in Gaza to lead to the release of the hostages.

"Why is this night different than all others, citizens of Israel? Because on this night, 133 of our dear brothers and sisters are not sitting at the Seder table, and are still trapped in Hamas's inferno. We already freed 124 of our hostages and we are determined to bring everyone home - those who are alive and the fallen as well. And why is this night not different? Because in every generation they rise up to destroy us and the Holy One Blessed Be He saves us from their hands. This time as well, we will defeat those who seek to harm us - thanks to our nation's faith, the boldness of our soldiers, and our unity," Netanyahu stated.

He added: "This Seder night we are faced by our hostages in Hamas captivity. Their suffering and the suffering of their families tear our hearts and only strengthen our determination to bring them back. We are not letting up for a moment from the holy task of bringing them home.

"Unfortunately, until now, all proposals to free our hostages were refused by Hamas. Therefore the US Secretary of State said correctly: 'Hamas has refused all proposals that we offered it.' According to him, the only thing preventing a hostage deal is Hamas. Instead of backing down from its extreme positions, Hamas is building division between us, it draws encouragement from the pressure on the Israeli government. As a result, it only tightens its conditions to release the hostages. It hardens its heart and refuses to let our people go, and therefore, we will send it additional and painful plagues - and it will happen soon. In the coming days, we will increase the military and diplomatic pressure on Hamas since that is the only way to free the hostages and achieve victory," the Prime Minister emphasized.

He further stated: "On the eve of Passover, when the people of Israel left slavery, we shall remember the heroic fallen and our wounded troops, thanks to their sacrifices we are free men. The State of Israel is strong, the IDF is strong - both on defense and offensive. Our enemies have nothing on us, we will defeat them. I salute our heroic soldiers who are fighting on all fronts, on land, sea, and air. I send support to my brothers and sisters, the bereaved families, who lost the dearest of all."

Netanyahu commented on the American threats to impose sanctions on the Netzach Yehuda Battalion: "My brother Yoni of blessed memory, who fell in battle to return hostages, wrote the simple historic truth: 'The IDF is the only force standing and preventing the slaughter of our nation like in the past.' I will sacrifice myself to defend a unit in the IDF, I will fight it with all my might. As our soldiers are united in defending us on the battlefield, we are united to defend them on the diplomatic front. Together we will fight, and with G-d's help, together we will win."