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Senior Hamas official says future hostage negotiations will only take place after the war

Relatives of Israelis held hostage by Hamas terrorists in Gaza since the October 7 massacre hold a press conference in Tel Aviv on December 4, 2023. (Photo: Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

The deputy head of the Hamas terror group’s political bureau told Al Jazeera on Saturday that further negotiations on the remaining hostages would only take place after the ongoing war with Israel.

“The remaining prisoners in our hands are soldiers and former soldiers, and there will be no negotiations regarding them until the end of hostilities,” the senior Hamas official Saleh al-Arouri told the Qatari media news outlet.

Israel has vowed to continue its military operations until Hamas is defeated and eliminated as a military and political force in the Gaza Strip and internationally.

Al-Arouri claimed that Hamas had already released all the Israeli and foreign women and children among the hostages being held captive in Gaza.

“From the beginning, the Hamas movement announced that the foreign prisoners were to be released without compensation, and that the children and women hostages were not a target and would be released,” al-Arouri claimed.

However, Israel insists that Hamas is still holding some 20 civilian women and two children that the terror organization abducted during its lethal invasion of southern Israeli communities on Oct. 7.

Hamas and other terror groups kidnapped some 240 Israeli and foreign nationals. Hamas released 105 hostages during the recent temporary truce, which was mediated by the United States and Qatar. The vast majority of the released hostages were women, children and foreign nationals, including Thai workers who were living in Israel.

Israeli officials recently revealed that the fragile temporary ceasefire collapsed due to Hamas’ refusal to release the remaining Israeli women and children still held in the Gaza Strip.

Israeli officials believe that the terror group intends to use the remaining female hostages as bargaining chips in future negotiations.

In addition, Israeli officials believe that the terror group does not want the women to reveal details about the atrocities committed against them during their captivity in Gaza.

The Israeli Prime Minister’s Office and Mossad Intelligence confirmed on Saturday that the indirect negotiations to extend the pause in fighting with Hamas in Qatar had ended.

“Due to the dead end in negotiations, and following instructions from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Mossad Director David Barnea ordered the negotiating team in Doha to return home,” read the official joint statement.

“The Hamas terror group did not fulfill its obligations under the agreement that included releasing all the women and children that were on the list provided to Hamas and which it authorized,” the statement added.

Israel has demanded that Hamas free Shiri Bibas, a 32-year-old Israeli mother and her two young children, 4-year-old Ariel and 10-month-old Kfir, who were kidnapped by terror operatives and abducted to Gaza.

In addition, Hamas is believed to have kidnapped Shiri’s husband Yarden. However, the wellbeing of the Bibas family is currently unclear and Hamas claims that Shiri and the children were killed during an Israeli aerial strike in the Gaza Strip.

Israel has been investigating the claim further, as Hamas has a history using psychological warfare against Israel and its citizens with false information. For example, some hostages that Hamas previously claimed were dead, later emerged alive during the recent hostage deal.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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