May 22, 2024

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Official: Hamas does not have 40 hostages who meet the conditions for a possible exchange with Israel

Official: Hamas does not have 40 hostages who meet the conditions for a possible exchange with Israel

A senior Hamas official said on Wednesday that Hamas does not have 40 hostages alive in Gaza who meet the criteria for an exchange under a proposed ceasefire agreement with Israel that is being negotiated.

A senior Israeli official said that Israel conveyed Hamas' claim, and a senior Hamas official said that the movement informed the mediators facilitating the negotiations. The Israeli official and the Hamas official requested that their identities not be revealed due to the sensitivity of the negotiations.

This confirmation raised fears that more hostages could be killed than previously thought, and came at a time when talks between Hamas and Israel faltered amid disagreements over the duration of the ceasefire, the return of displaced Palestinians to northern Gaza and other issues.

International negotiators proposed an initial six-week ceasefire during which Hamas would release the first group of 40 hostages – including women, the elderly, sick hostages and five Israeli female soldiers – in exchange for the release of hundreds of Palestinians held in Israeli prisons as well. Like other demands.

Israeli officials believe there are about 130 hostages remaining in Gaza, and Israeli intelligence officers have concluded that at least 30 of these have died in captivity.

It was not immediately clear whether Israel would now demand that the young men and soldiers be included among the first 40 prisoners to be released. It was expected that these hostages would have to wait for a later stage of the deal.

This development came days after the Israeli army announced that it had found the body of an Israeli hostage who was kidnapped, like about 240 others, during the Hamas-led attack on October 7.

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The Israeli government and Hamas held a brief ceasefire in Gaza in November to allow the release of about 100 hostages captured during the offensive in exchange for the release of Palestinian prisoners held in Israel, providing a respite from a devastating bombing campaign.