Hamas told it has just three weeks to free Israel’s hostages or face a bloodbath in final Gaza terror stronghold Rafah

Hamas told it has just three weeks to free Israel’s hostages or face a bloodbath in final Gaza terror stronghold Rafah

HAMAS has been set a three week deadline to free Israel’s remaining hostages – or face a bloodbath in its only remaining stronghold.

Retired general Benny Gantz – a powerful member of Israel‘s war cabinet – said troops would press on with their dreaded assault into Gaza’s southern city of Rafah on March 10.

APFSmoke rises following Israeli bombardments in Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip[/caption]

Israel is hunting down Hamas leader Yahya SinwarRex

Gantz – tipped to success under-fire PM Benjamin Netanyahu – said: “If by Ramadan (Mar 10) our hostages are not home, the fighting will continue to the Rafah area.”

It was the first time Israel’s leaders have publicly discussed a timeline for an operation in the southern city, where more than half the territory’s 2.3 million people have sought refuge.

Hamas terrorists – believed to include leader Yahya Sinwar – are hiding among terrified civilians and a vast tunnel network under the besieged city.

Brute Sinwar, accused of being the mastermind of the barbaric October 7 attack, has been described as Israel’s most-wanted man in Gaza 

Israel has vowed to. “catch him, dead or alive,”

Last week, the IDF released footage appearing to show him fleeing in a terror tunnel with his family.

But Israel’s defence minister Yoav Gallant now claims Hamas is looking to replace the terror leader as he has been “uncontactable for weeks”.

Gallant said the group is working out who would control the Gaza Strip as “Hamas’ Gaza operation is unresponsive, without local leadership for dialogue, prompting external leaders to seek a new internal head”.

A growing number of nations, including the UK and Germany, have warned Israel against any offensive in the city, warning of a “humanitarian catastrophe”.

But Israeli war cabinet member Benny Gantz has insisted the offensive will go ahead if the remaining hostages are let go.

The former defence minister said: “The world must know, and Hamas leaders must know – if by Ramadan our hostages are not home, the fighting will continue everywhere, to include the Rafah area.”

Ramadan, observed by Muslims worldwide as a month of fasting, begins on March 10.

When Hamas attacked Israel on October 7, they killed around 1,200 people and kidnapped 250 others.

Over 100 of those hostages were freed during the only brief ceasefire in November, and Israel says more than 130 remain in captivity.

Some of the remaining hostages are thought to be dead , including three tragically killed by Israel’s own soldiers after escaping Hamas terrorists in December.

Last week, two hostages being kept in Rafah were rescued under the cover of night and a heavy barrage of airstrikes.

The IDF revealed that Fernando Simon Marman, 61, and Norberto Louis Har, 70, were brought safely home after more than four months in the terror group’s captivity.

The men, who were held for 128 days, were then taken to shelter where they were checked by doctors and airlifted to a hospital in Israel.

Meanwhile, Israeli soldiers stormed Gaza’s biggest hospital last week amid reports that the bodies of murdered Hamas hostages are being kept there.

IDF Commanders said they had “credible evidence” that dead civilians were being held at a besieged hospital after they were snatched during Hamas’ October 7 massacre.

Patients and staff at the hospital in Khan Younis, southern Gaza, were urged to flee before special forces teams poured into the building.

IDF troops were then forced to scour the morgue at Nasser hospital in their grim search for dead hostages.

The daring Israeli commandos also arrested several terror suspects during their raid.

IDF spokesman Daniel Hagari said the military had conducted a “precise and limited” operation inside the hospital.

The IDF has confirmed the deaths of 31 hostages held by the terror group, including the bodies of two soldiers held since 2014.

Israeli soldiers on the frontline in Gaza

ReutersA woman rests next to a damaged building, as Palestinians arrive in Rafah after they were evacuated from Nasser hospital[/caption]

An injured person gets help amid the commotion at Nasser hospital

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