Hamas Claims Israel Declined to Receive Hostages Offered for Release

After the terror group declared it was ready to free the two further hostages from Gaza, Hamas claimed Israel ‘declined to receive’ them.

A representative for Hamas’ armed branch stated on Saturday that the organisation planned to free the two hostages for “humanitarian reasons.”

It did, however, assert that Israel had refused to accept them; Israel rejected this assertion as “propaganda.”

Benjamin Netanyahu’s office issued a brief statement saying, “We will not refer to false propaganda by Hamas.”

We’ll keep doing all in our power to bring all of the missing and abducted individuals back home.

The Izz el-Deen al-Qassam Brigades’ spokesman, Abu Ubaida, made a brief statement stating that the group notified Qatar on Friday of Hamas’ plan to free them.

He gave no further details regarding the hostages.

The assertion follows the release of two other hostages by Hamas on Friday: Judith and Natalie Raanan, an American mother and daughter.

According to Israeli sources, on October 7, Hamas militants broke through the border from Gaza into Israel, killing at least 1,400 people—mostly civilians who were shot, burned, or somehow disfigured—and kidnapping over 200 hostages.

Over 4,300 Palestinians, mostly civilians, have been murdered by Israel’s ceaseless bombing campaign in retaliation, according to the health ministry operated by Hamas.

Only hours after the first aid trucks from Egypt arrived, delivering much-needed help to inhabitants in the war-torn enclave, the Israeli military declared today that it was intensifying its assault of Gaza.

In the second round of the battle against Hamas that it initiated following the October 7 attack, the IDF stated that its goal was to lessen the hazards that its soldiers would encounter when they invade Gaza.

The 2.4 million people living in the heavily populated area are without gasoline, food, water, or electricity due to an Israeli siege, raising concerns about a humanitarian disaster.

In anticipation of a ground offensive that authorities have promised will start “soon,” tens of thousands of Israeli soldiers have mobilised to the Gaza border.

At a press conference on Saturday, military spokesman Admiral Daniel Hagari stated, “As of today, we are increasing the strikes and minimising the danger.”

“We must go into the next phase of the war under optimal conditions, not based on the advice of others.”

Lieutenant General Herzi Halevi, the chief of staff, stated that forces were prepared to face any shocks Hamas may have when they invade Gaza during a visit to a frontline infantry brigade.

“We are preparing for them, but the enemy is preparing a lot there in Gaza due to its dense population,” Halevi stated.

Many things could go wrong in the event of a full-scale Israeli ground offensive in Gaza, including the captives that Hamas abducted and whose future is uncertain.

According to Mirjana Spoljaric, head of the International Committee of the Red Cross, the release of the two American hostages on Friday provided a unique “sliver of hope.”

Thanking Qatar—the home of Hamas’s political bureau—for mediating the release, US President Joe Biden expressed gratitude.

He declared that he was working “around the clock” to secure the release of other detained Americans.

Ben, Natalie Raanan’s half-brother, told the BBC that following “the most horrible of ordeals,” he experienced a “overwhelming sense of joy” at the release.

Asserting that it was ‘working with all mediators to implement the movement’s decision to close the civilian (hostage) file if proper security conditions allow,’ Hamas said that the release had been arranged by Egypt and Qatar.

Twenty trucks from the Egyptian Red Crescent crossed the Rafah border crossing into Gaza on Saturday, as reported by AFP news agency journalists.

Once the vehicles had crossed, the crossing, which is the sole one into Gaza that is not under Israeli control, closed once more.

After Israel granted its biggest ally, the United States, permission to enable aid to enter, the trucks had been waiting on the Egyptian border for days.

More than a million Gazans have been evicted from their homes, and UN chief Antonio Guterres claimed that the 20 trucks that were permitted on Saturday were far from meeting their demands.

At a peace conference in Egypt, Guterres declared that “much more” aid was required.

In addition to applauding the assistance, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged “all parties” to maintain the Rafah border.

However, a spokeswoman for Hamas claimed that “even dozens” of these convoys would not be able to meet Gaza’s needs, particularly since no gasoline was being allowed in to aid in distributing the supplies to people in need.

According to the UN, at least 30% of Gaza’s housing stock has been destroyed or severely damaged, and nearly half of its citizens have been forced to flee their homes.

In the southern Gazan city of Khan Yunis, there is a camp where thousands of people have sought safety.

According to Fadwa al-Najjar, she and her seven kids travelled for ten hours to get to the camp, occasionally sprinting as missiles flew all around them.

She told AFP, “We just started praying, thinking we were going to die, and we saw bodies and limbs torn off.”

Rami Abu Wazna was having difficulty comprehending the devastation caused by Israeli missile attacks in the central Gazan neighbourhood of Al-Zahra.

He said, “I never thought this could be possible, not even in my worst nightmares.”

Amid worries of a wider conflict, the United States has sent two aircraft carriers into the eastern Mediterranean to discourage Iran or Hezbollah in Lebanon, both of which are friends of Hamas.

Friday’s gunfire over Israel’s border with Lebanon persisted, and according to Hezbollah, four of its men had died.

Two Thai farm labourers were hurt in Israel, according to emergency authorities.

The Palestinian Health Ministry reports that since October 7, there have been 84 Palestinian deaths in the West Bank due to violence.

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