Israeli officials revealed on Friday that the limited truce with Hamas collapsed after the Islamist terror organization refused to release an additional 10 female hostages that it kidnapped during its unprecedented surprise invasion and brutal attack in southern Israel on Oct. 7.
Instead, Hamas reportedly wanted to begin releasing male hostages category, for which it would likely demand the release of senior terrorists and convicted murderers currently serving time in Israeli prisons.
The truce, which was brokered by Qatar and the United States, resulted in the release of 105 Israeli and Thai civilians, the vast majority of whom were Israeli women, children and the elderly.
In exchange, the Jewish state released some 210 security Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails, exclusively women and underage individuals. In addition, Israel also permitted the inflow of more humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip.
The Jewish state has demanded that Hamas release the 32-year-old Israeli mother Shiri Bibas and her children, 4-year-old Ariel and 10-month-old Kfir, who were abducted on Oct. 7. Her husband Yarden is believed to have been kidnapped alongside her and their children, but there was no information immediately available regarding his whereabouts or wellbeing.
There were expectations from Jerusalem that they would be present among the hostages released during the brief pause in fighting. However, Hamas released a statement claiming that Bibas and her two young children were killed in an Israeli military strike in Gaza.
The Israeli military responded by stating it would investigate the “cruel and inhumane” claim made by the Islamist terror group.
“The Hamas terror organization continues to act in a cruel and inhumane manner,” the Israeli military said in an official statement.
Hamas has a history of using psychological games against Israel and its citizens. For instance, some hostages that Hamas initially claimed were dead recently returned to Israel alive.
The Biden administration is backing the Israeli position that Hamas is still holding female hostages in captivity in Gaza. In addition, Washington also blamed Hamas for violating the truce and causing the resumption of the fighting.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who recently made his fourth visit to Israel since the Hamas Oct. 7 massacre, confirmed that Hamas “began firing rockets before the pause ended, and… reneged on the commitments it made in terms of releasing certain hostages.”
During a recent Al Arabiya interview, senior Hamas terror official Osama Hamdan blamed Israel for the collapse of the truce, arguing that Jerusalem had demanded to include female IDF soldiers among the released female hostages.
Unnamed Israeli officials told the Walla news outlet that Hamas is deliberately keeping some female hostages as bargaining chips for potential future prisoner exchanges with Israel. Some Israeli officials believe the reason Hamas has not released all female hostages is because the terror organization does not want the women to reveal the full extent of the atrocities that Hamas terrorists perpetrated against women during the Oct. 7 invasion, and specifically towards female hostages being held in Gaza by the terrorists.
While Israeli officials do not dismiss the prospects of another truce in the future, they stressed that indirect negotiations would continue under fire, arguing that Hamas only responds to pressure.
Hamas and its accomplices are still believed to be holding some 130 hostages; the majority, Israeli men and IDF personnel. There are also some foreign nationals left among the hostages, including Thai workers.
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.