Saturday, February 24, 2024

Hamas delays release of hostages until Israel lets aid into northern Gaza

The armed wing of the Palestinian militant group Hamas said on Saturday that it was delaying the second round of hostage releases until Israel was committed to letting aid trucks enter northern Gaza.

Hamas’ al-Qassam Brigades added that the hostage releases would be delayed if Israel did not adhere to the agreed terms for the release of Palestinian prisoners, Al Jazeera reported.

Osama Hamdan, the Hamas representative in Lebanon, told the Lebanon-based Al Mayadeen TV channel that the suspension was due to violations of the truce committed by Israel “linked to aid [entering Gaza], in addition to shootings and the rising death toll… Some of [these violations] happened yesterday, and repeated today,” Hamdan said.

Hamas earlier said 14 Israelis were being handed over to the organisation on Saturday.

“The Izz al-dine al-Qassam Brigades have begun handing the second group of Israeli prisoners over to the Red Cross in (the southern city of) Khan Yunis. There are 14 of them,” a source told AFP, referring to the armed wing of Hamas.

Meanwhile, Israeli media has reported that the military will resume bombardment of Gaza if Hamas does not release the captives by midnight Israel time (21:00 GMT).

Osama Hamdan, Beirut-based member of Hamas’s political bureau, has called Israel’s threats “empty” and said that it “will not succeed in liberating its prisoners by force.”

“We reiterate our commitment to implement and ensure the success of the truce agreement that was reached through Qatari and Egyptian mediation,” Hamdan said in a news conference.

“The agreement on a humanitarian truce and the exchange of captives and prisoners would not have been achieved if it were not for the steadfastness of our people,” he said.

“The occupation will not succeed in liberating its prisoners by force.”

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