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Hamas demands end to war for release of hostages

The terrorist group also wants a complete IDF withdrawal from Gaza and guarantees it will continue to rule the Strip.

Israelis call for the release of Israelis held by Hamas in Gaza, at "Hostage Square" in Tel Aviv, Jan. 20, 2024. Photo by Miriam Alster/Flash90.
Israelis call for the release of Israelis held by Hamas in Gaza, at "Hostage Square" in Tel Aviv, Jan. 20, 2024. Photo by Miriam Alster/Flash90.

Hamas is demanding a total end to the war in a deal to release the hostages remaining in Gaza, Hebrew-language newspaper Yedioth Ahronot reported on Saturday, citing senior Israeli officials.

Additionally, the terrorist organization is demanding Israel’s complete withdrawal of its forces from Gaza and international guarantees that it will be allowed to remain in power in the Strip.

Furthermore, a senior Israeli official said that Jerusalem was working with Qatari, Egyptian and American channels on the framework of a possible agreement.

“Hamas also has an interest in a major truce and a cease-fire, because we are expanding the military achievement in the southern Gaza Strip. Hamas may have an interest in a ceasefire so that it can reorganize. We are ready to halt the fight—we hope that there will be a convergence of interests. But if we stop the fight now, it will allow Hamas to recover logistically and militarily, and Hamas will get [security] prisoners [released from Israeli jails],” the official said.

Meanwhile, Israel has received no confirmation that the hostages received the medicines intended for them that entered the Gaza Strip last week, according to the report.

A senior Israeli official said that Qatar agreed with Hamas on the way the drugs would be transferred to the abductees and that Israel was insisting that Doha continue to pressure Hamas to ensure that the medicines are delivered. “There is no indication yet that this has happened,” the official said.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is scheduled to meet with the families of hostages held by Hamas in Gaza in his Jerusalem office on Monday.

Brig. Gen. Gal Hirsch, the government coordinator for hostages and missing persons, initiated the meeting, which will be the 10th between Netanyahu and the relatives of captives.

According to the IDF, 136 hostages are still being held in Gaza out of 240 taken during the Hamas invasion of the northwestern Negev on Oct. 7, although many are believed to be dead. Israeli forces on Saturday found a massive tunnel underneath Khan Yunis where around 20 hostages were held at various times.

Dozens of relatives of hostages demonstrated outside the Netanyahu family home in Caesarea starting on Friday night to demand that the return of the hostages be the government’s top priority. Many of them erected tents on the sidewalk and stayed overnight and throughout Shabbat.

Families of Israelis held by Hamas in Gaza protest outside the prime minister’s house in Caesarea, Jan. 20, 2024. Photo by Jonathan Shaul/Flash90.

Protesters also gathered in Tel Aviv and Haifa, including thousands at central Tel Aviv’s Habima Square, calling for the return of the hostages and early elections.

Criticism of Netanyahu’s wartime efforts is also coming from inside the government, with Minister-without-Portfolio Gadi Eizenkot, a member of the War Cabinet, last week questioning whether the goals of the war are achievable and saying that the top priority should be freeing the hostages.

“There’s no question for me what task is of highest priority,” the former IDF chief of staff told Channel 12. “There’s no dilemma: For me, the mission is to save civilians [hostages] before eliminating the enemy.”

Eizenkot’s son was killed last month while fighting Hamas terrorists in the Gaza Strip.

Minister-without-Porfolio Gadi Eizenkot (center) attends the funeral of his son Master Sgt. (res.) Gal Meir Eizenkot in Herzliya, Dec. 8, 2023. Photo by Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90.

Qatar-based Hamas political bureau chief Ismail Haniyeh met with Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan in Turkey on Saturday.

The two men reportedly discussed the hostage situation and a possible ceasefire in the conflict that began on Oct. 7, when Hamas terrorists from Gaza stormed across the Israeli border, murdering some 1,200 persons, wounding thousands more and taking 240 hostages.

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