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Netanyahu says ‘enough’ remaining Israeli hostages alive to warrant Gaza war

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Israeli police officers walk past a board displaying pictures of hostages kidnapped in the deadly October 7 attack on Israel by the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, in Tel Aviv, Israel, February 10, 2024. REUTERS/Susana Vera

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(Reuters) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in an interview aired on Sunday that “enough” of the 132 remaining Israeli hostages held in Gaza are alive to justify Israel’s ongoing war in the region.

Asked how many of the hostages are still alive, Netanyahu said “enough to warrant the kind of efforts that we’re doing.

“We’re going to try to do our best to get all those who are alive back and, frankly, also the bodies of the dead,” he said in the interview with ABC’s “This Week” program.

Netanyahu also said that one Palestinian civilian has been killed for every Hamas fighter killed in Gaza.

Health authorities in Gaza, which is controlled by Hamas, estimate about 28,000 Palestinians, mostly civilians, have been killed in the region since the conflict began in October.

Palestinian health authorities say around 70% of those killed are women or children under 18. The World Health Organization has described the Palestinian Health Ministry system for reporting casualties as “very good” and U.N. agencies regularly cite its death toll figures.

Hamas gunmen killed 1,200 Israelis and took around 250 hostages back to Gaza in an Oct. 7 assault that triggered the conflict.

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