Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu affirmed Monday that he plans to forge ahead with a long-anticipated and controversial military operation in the Gaza Strip city of Rafah — as Hamas reportedly claimed there are fewer than 40 women, elderly and ailing hostages who it can account for.

In a video message posted to X, Netanyahu — who has come under increasing domestic criticism over his handling of the six-month-old war against the terror group — told Israelis that “complete victory” over the jihadists “requires entry into Rafah and the elimination of the terrorist battalions there.”

“It will happen, there is a date,” the 74-year-old added without giving further specifics.

Meanwhile, truce talks involving Israeli and Hamas officials in Cairo were ongoing after CIA Director Bill Burns proposed over the weekend that Hamas submit a list of 40 Israeli hostages who are alive and can be released on humanitarian grounds — meaning women, female Israel Defense Forces soldiers, men over 50, and those with serious medical conditions — in exchange for a six-week cease-fire, according to Axios.

On Monday, however, Israel’s Channel 12 news reported that Hamas was trying to negotiate the release of fewer hostages on the grounds it had “no ability to release 40” abductees who fit the initial request by Israeli negotiators.

The lack of progress in talks raises new questions about exactly how many of those abducted by Hamas in its Oct. 7 attack on southern Israel are left alive.

Terrorists captured approximately 240 people from 29 nations during and after the attack, which killed an estimated 1,200 people, including 33 Americans.

As of late March, 129 Oct. 7 hostages are still believed to be in Gaza, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing Israeli officials.

Of that number, at least 34 and as many as 50 are believed to have died in captivity.

The captivity figure includes 19 women, 10 people over the age of 75, and two children.

Hamas is also believed to be holding two Israelis captured prior to the Oct. 7 attack, as well as the remains of two IDF soldiers killed during Gaza fighting in 2014, bringing the grand total of Israelis held dead or alive to 133.

In addition, US officials say five of the remaining hostages are American citizens, though it is unclear whether they are alive or dead. Eight Thai nationals, a citizen of Nepal, a French-Mexican dual citizens and a Tanzanian who has since died are also among the hostages, according to the WSJ.

Israel and Hamas reached a six-day truce this past November as part of a large prisoner exchange. But a follow-up deal has proven to be elusive for months.

Netanyahu’s intention of barreling into Rafah has caused friction with President Biden, who has demanded that any operation be conducted with plans to safeguard civilians.

Last Thursday, Biden and Netanyahu had a testy phone conversation in which the president called for a cease-fire and warned that the US would reconsider its support for Israel if the humanitarian situation did not improve.

Following that call, Israel agreed to open up the Hanoon crossing in northern Gaza to allow more aid into the beleaguered territory.

Rafah is home to an estimated 1.4 million refugees, many of whom traveled there to seek safety from the intense fighting up north.

During a press conference Monday, State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller indicated that Washington has not been briefed on the date for a military campaign in Rafah.

“Recent efforts must be just the starting point for a sustained Israeli commitment to ensure the people of Gaza have their basic needs met,” Miller said.

Meanwhile, Netanyahu is staring down a call for early elections amid consternation about his leadership at home and growing frustrations with him abroad.

National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, a member of the far-right Otzma Yehudit party, cautioned Monday that Netanyahu will “cease to have a mandate to serve as prime minister” if the Israel-Hamas war ends without an invasion of Rafah.

A staggering 71% of Israelis want Netanyahu to step down, including 42% who want him to resign immediately, and 29% who want him gone once the war wraps up, according to a Sunday poll conducted by the Kan public broadcaster.

A separate Channel 12 poll found that half of respondents wanted early elections, with 41% opposed to premature balloting.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) called for new elections in Israel last month during a stunning address from the floor of the upper chamber.

The Brooklyn Democrat was expected to meet with Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid during Lapid’s trip to Washington this week.

Tens of thousands of Israelis took to the streets of Tel Aviv over the weekend, rallying against Netanyahu and demanding an immediate hostage deal.

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