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Israel (country)

Israeli PM Netanyahu to undergo hernia surgery, second time since 2013

Maayan Lubell and Emily Rose
Reuters

JER˽ýӳLEM - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will undergo surgery on Sunday for a hernia, his office said, at a time when he is waging a war against Hamas in Gaza, and less than a year after he was fitted with a pacemaker.

"On Saturday night, during a routine checkup for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a hernia was found," his office said in a statement, adding that the 74-year-old leader will be under general anesthetic during his surgery later on Sunday.

Signaling his condition was not serious, Netanyahu held a news conference before the procedure, his second hernia surgery since August 2013.

"I assure you that I will get through this treatment successfully and return to action very quickly," the prime minister told reporters at the conference.

More:Pope Francis, in Easter address, calls for immediate ceasefire in Gaza

Netanyahu was fitted with a pacemaker last July, while Israel was ensnared in its worst domestic crisis in decades, with widespread protests against his hard-right government's judicial overhaul plan.

Those protests stopped on Oct. 7, when the Palestinian Islamist Hamas group launched its shock attack on southern Israel, killing 1,200 people and taking more than 250 hostages back to Gaza.

It was Israel's deadliest single day and the worst attack on Jews since the Holocaust. Israel then launched an air, sea and ground offensive in Gaza, with the declared aim of ending Hamas' rule there and dismantling its military capabilities.

More than 32,000 Palestinians have been killed in the war and Israel has faced intense and growing international pressure over the death toll and the grave humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

More:Netanyahu speaks to GOP lawmakers: Prime minister vows to continue war in Gaza, criticizes Democratic leader

Netanyahu's popularity, already down over the judicial crisis, has plummeted further since the war, with successive opinion polls showing little faith in his leadership and a defeat by more centrist rivals if an election were held.

With around 130 hostages still in Gaza, there have been steady protests against Netanyahu's government over its failure to get them home. The government is facing a new crisis over exemptions of ultra-Orthodox Jewish men from military service, an issue that is splitting opinion within the prime minister's own cabinet.

Now in his sixth term, Netanyahu is Israel's longest-serving leader. He is also the country's first sitting premier to be indicted with corruption. His trial is still ongoing and he denies any wrongdoing.

Justice Minister Yariv Levin will be standing in for Netanyahu during the operation on Sunday, his office said.

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