Hamas delays hostage release, tables fresh demands

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Hamas delays hostage release, demands aid to northern Gaza
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Hamas Delays Hostage Release.

In the latest developments in the ongoing conflict, the armed wing of Hamas has announced a delay in the scheduled second round of hostage releases, demanding that Israel fulfills certain conditions.

One of the key conditions is the commitment to allowing aid trucks into northern Gaza. The announcement has disrupted efforts to maintain a four-day truce, leading to mediation efforts by various parties.

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Israel has responded by deploying 50 trucks into northern Gaza, carrying essential supplies such as food, water, shelter equipment, and medical supplies. This marks the first significant aid delivery to northern Gaza since the conflict began.

Mediators, including Qatar and Egypt, are actively engaged in talks with both Israel and Hamas to resolve the delay in hostage releases. Qatar is reportedly in ongoing discussions to expedite the resolution, while Egypt is also working towards finding a solution to the impasse.

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Despite the delay, Israel asserts that it is honouring the truce, emphasizing its commitment to the cessation of hostilities. The armed wing of Hamas, known as the al-Qassam Brigades, contends that Israel is not adhering to the agreed terms of the Palestinian prisoner release, a crucial element of the hostage deal.

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The release of 13 Israeli women and children by Hamas on Friday had initially raised hopes for a smooth continuation of hostage and prisoner releases. However, the recent statement by the al-Qassam Brigades has cast uncertainty on the process.

Qadura Fares, the Palestinian commissioner for prisoners, highlighted that Israel had not released detainees according to seniority, as expected under the truce accord mediated by Qatar.

Israeli army spokesperson Olivier Rafowicz, speaking to French television, affirmed that Israel is strictly honouring the terms of the truce. He clarified that the military had not conducted any attacks or offensive operations in Gaza on Saturday.

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As the situation unfolds, there are indications that talks are ongoing regarding a possible truce extension. Egypt, controlling the Rafah border crossing, has reported receiving “positive signals” from all parties. Discussions are underway to explore the release of more detainees in Gaza and Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.

Israel has conveyed that the ceasefire could be extended if Hamas continues to release hostages at a rate of at least 10 per day. A Palestinian source has suggested that up to 100 hostages could be released in the ongoing exchange.

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The complexities of the conflict persist, with diplomatic efforts focused on navigating the challenges and uncertainties surrounding the truce and hostage release negotiations.

 

Source: Reuters

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