Hamas, the governing authority in the Gaza Strip, has declared that it will not release any more hostages until Israel agrees to a “full cessation of aggression.”
The statement by the militant group comes after Israel claimed to have killed over 2,000 Hamas fighters in Gaza since the recent truce, during which more than 100 hostages were freed.
Despite the recent hostage release, 120 people abducted from Israel on October 7 still remain in captivity in Gaza.
Despite new efforts by the US to support a new UN Security Council resolution on humanitarian aid for Gaza, fighting continues in Gaza, with Israel conducting airstrikes in the north and south of the territory, and Hamas launching rockets towards Tel Aviv.
Hamas’s statement, asserting a Palestinian national decision to link hostage releases to a complete cessation of aggression, might be hard for Israel to agree with.
Israel has been employing military pressure and rescue operations to secure the release of hostages, but Hamas insists on a halt to aggression before engaging in any talks about prisoners or exchange deals. The Israeli government faces a difficult decision as it balances military strategies with pressure from hostage relatives urging a change in approach.
The conflict has taken a toll on Gaza’s population, with the Hamas-run health ministry reporting an overall death toll of 20,057 since October 7. The situation is dire, with concerns about famine within six months if hostilities persist. The World Health Organization said northern Gaza has been left without a functional hospital due to lack of fuel, staff and supplies.