update deskIsrael at War

Hamas say they don’t know which hostages are alive or where they are

It is "impossible" to know who is still alive, Hamas spokesman Basem Naim told the BBC.

Israelis protest for the release of Israelis held kidnapped by Hamas terrorists in Gaza, at the Knesset, the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem, March 4, 2024. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.
Israelis protest for the release of Israelis held kidnapped by Hamas terrorists in Gaza, at the Knesset, the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem, March 4, 2024. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.

A Hamas official explained to the BBC on Sunday why the terror group didn’t accede to the Israeli demand to provide the number of hostages still alive: it doesn’t know itself.

“Practically it is impossible to know who is still alive because of the Israeli bombardment and blockage. They are in different areas with different groups,” Basem Naim, a member of Hamas’s political bureau, told the BBC‘s London-based “Newshour” program from Istanbul.

“We have asked for a ceasefire to collect that data,” he said, adding that “we cannot accept any preconditions.”

Qatar told Israel on Sunday that ceasefire talks will not be able to advance after Hamas failed to give Jerusalem the number of living captives, which Israel said was a requirement to move forward with a ceasefire agreement.

There are believed to be 134 hostages remaining in Gaza, out of 253 kidnapped during the Hamas-led assault on the northwestern Negev on Oct. 7 that killed 1,200 people and wounded thousands more. Israel has confirmed that 32 are dead.

Jerusalem is also demanding that the terror group specify the ratio of security prisoners it wants to be released per Israeli hostage.

Without those two demands met, Israel decided not to send a delegation to Cairo for talks on a ceasefire deal on Sunday that involved Hamas as well as American, Egyptian and Qatari mediators.

Israel on Monday denied a Saudi report that Hamas did supply the terrorist-to-hostage ratio.

According to Israeli media reports, the American plan put forward at the second Paris summit in late February proposed a six-week ceasefire that would include the release of 400 Palestinian security prisoners in exchange for 40 Israeli hostages.

A senior Hamas terror official reportedly described the Cairo talks as “positive” and said that “the ball is in Israel’s court.”

However, in the BBC interview, Naim repeated Hamas’s demands that the war end and Israel withdraw its forces from Gaza, both nonstarters for Jerusalem.

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