Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu battles on all fronts, amid growing pressure to free hostages

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been under increasing pressure to free hostages held by armed groups in the region.

Netanyahu has been criticized by the families of the hostages and by many in Israel who believe that he has failed to take adequate action to obtain their release. On Sunday, Israeli journalist Shlomi Eldar wrote in Al Monitor that Netanyahu “has only gone through the motions of trying to bring the hostages home”.

Netanyahu has responded that his government is working tirelessly to free the hostages but that he cannot share details of their efforts for fear of compromising their safety. In a statement released last week, Netanyahu said, “We are making every effort, but at the same time we must be aware that any public intervention can aggravate the problem and increase the suffering of those held hostage and their families.”

Netanyahu’s critics, however, are unconvinced and believe he is not doing enough to secure the hostages’ freedom. Last year, Israeli Minister of Intelligence Yuval Steinitz called for a broader military operation in the region if necessary to secure their release.

Netanyahu is also battling multiple other fronts, such as dealing with Palestinian-Israeli tensions, the war in Syria, and persistent rocket fire from Gaza. He also has to manage a coalition of right-wing and centrist parties with different agendas.

At the same time, he faces a growing challenge from former Chief of Staff Benny Gantz in the upcoming Israeli elections, and his repeated attempts to form a government during the last year’s Knesset session were unsuccessful. Netanyahu faces multiple foreign policy challenges that he must manage successfully if he is to remain in power.