GAZA: Hamas’s military wing on Thursday said Israel’s objective to eliminate the group in Gaza was “doomed to fail”, more than two months into war triggered by attacks on Israel.
Abu Obeida, spokesman for Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, also said in an audio recording that any further release of hostages held in Gaza depended on a “cessation of aggression”.
Neither Israel’s continued offensive nor “direct military operations” would bring the hostages home, he said.
“It is not possible to release enemy prisoners alive except by entering into negotiations.”
According to Israeli authorities, 129 hostages remain held in Gaza.
Abu Obeida said there was “no alternative” to negotiations, warning that Israeli fire could lead to the deaths of more hostages.
He took aim at Israel’s leader, whose “decision… evades facing and recognising the truth”.
Shortly after the spokesman’s recording, Hamas’s armed wing also released a video showing three Israeli hostages, claiming they had since been killed in Israeli strikes.
The bloodiest ever Gaza war began when Hamas attacked Israel on Oct 7, taking some 250 hostages and killing around 1,140 people, mostly civilians inside Israel, according to an AFP tally based on official figures.
Israel’s retaliatory bombardment and ground invasion has killed at least 20,000 people, mostly women and children, according to Gaza’s Hamas government.
A truce last month led to the release of over 100 hostages including 80 Israelis freed in exchange for 240 Palestinians held in Israeli prisons.
The head of the Palestinian group visited Egypt this week, raising hopes for another truce and deal to free the remaining hostages, though talks have yet to produce a new agreement.