In a recent declaration, the militant group Hamas, identified as a terrorist organization by several countries, issued a stark warning on Sunday. The group’s spokesperson, Abu Obeida, stated in a televised message that they will not release any hostages from the Gaza Strip without their demands being met. These demands include additional aid for Gaza.
This ultimatum comes amidst a tense period following a temporary ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas, which was initiated on November 24. During this ceasefire, 110 hostages were released by Hamas in exchange for approximately 240 Palestinian prisoners. However, the truce was short-lived, breaking down on November 30 as both parties accused each other of violating the agreement’s terms.
The situation escalated on October 7, when more than 240 individuals, including Israelis and foreign nationals, were captured in Gaza by Hamas militants following a cross-border incursion that resulted in a massacre of 1,200 people, as reported by the Israeli government.
In response, Israel has launched a robust military campaign, including airstrikes and ground operations, aiming to neutralize the militant group. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in a televised statement, urged Hamas fighters to surrender, noting the recent surrenders of numerous militants to Israeli forces. Netanyahu emphasized that the conflict is ongoing but asserted that this marked the beginning of the end for Hamas.
As of Sunday, according to Netanyahu’s office, Hamas still holds 117 hostages and the remains of 20 individuals who were either killed in captivity or during the October 7 attack. The militant group intends to use these hostages and remains as leverage in negotiations for the release of a significant number of Palestinians imprisoned by Israel.