BEIRUT, Feb 8 — A senior Lebanon-based official in Palestinian militant group Hamas said Wednesday that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s continued pursuit of war in Gaza showed the goal was “genocide” against Palestinians.

Netanyahu’s “insistence on continuing the aggression totally confirms that the goal of the aggression on Gaza is genocide against the Palestinian people”, Osama Hamdan told a news conference in Beirut.

“We will exert every effort to protect our people, whether through the resistance on the ground or... political efforts to stop the aggression,” Hamdan added.

Netanyahu on Wednesday dismissed Hamas’ demand for a ceasefire and ordered troops to prepare to move on the city of Rafah in Gaza’s far south, where more than one million Palestinians have sought refuge.

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The Israeli leader’s comments appeared to dampen US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s hopes for a ceasefire and hostage release deal, even as he cautioned that more negotiations were needed.

An Egyptian official told AFP that “a new round of negotiations” would start on Thursday in Cairo aimed at achieving “calm in the Gaza Strip”.

Hamdan said a Hamas delegation led by senior official Khalil al-Hayya would travel to Cairo on Thursday “to follow up on” the negotiations within the framework of Egyptian-Qatari efforts.

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He urged “all resistance factions... to continue the fight” and to be cautious of Israeli “treachery during the final quarter-hour of this confrontation, particularly as we are seeking to end the aggression in a way that befits the sacrifices of our people and resistance”. — AFP