This picture taken from southern Israel near the border with the Gaza Strip shows smoke rising from buildings after being hit by Israeli strikes in the battles between Israel and Hamas militants, on December 1, 2023. AP
Khalil al-Hayeh, a senior figure in Hamas’ political branch, spoke hours after a weeklong temporary cease-fire with Israel ended and the Israeli army resumed it's deadly strikes on Gaza..
Al-Hayeh told Qatar’s Al Jazeera television channel that negotiations over the release of members of the military held by Hamas could only take place in the context of a comprehensive cease-fire, rather than a pause in fighting.
“This is a complicated matter and has different conditions,” he said about the release of troops.
“But when it comes to civilians, we are open to any new truce to close the case of civilian captives.”
Al-Hayeh said he does not have a breakdown of the numbers of captives still being held by Hamas. He said some elderly people are among the civilians being held by the group.
Earlier, Hamas said in a statement that Israel was to blame for the violence after it rejected all the offers put forward by Hamas throughout the night to release more captives.
Hamas said it offered to release older people in addition to Yarden Bibas, whose wife and two small children Hamas said were killed previously in Israeli airstrikes so that he can attend their funeral.
It also offered to release two Israeli captives, according to AP report.
“The occupation refused to accept all these offers because it had plans to resume the criminal aggression,” Hamas said. It blasted the United States and Secretary of State Antony Blinken, saying the U.S. approved the new plan that has killed dozens on Friday morning alone.
Hamas said its fighters and those of other factions will resume their military activities and “will break the will of the defeated occupation army.”
An Israeli government spokesman said Friday that the Palestinian group Hamas "will now take the mother of all thumpings" after a truce pausing fighting in the Gaza Strip expired and hostilities resumed.
"Unfortunately, Hamas decided to terminate the pause by failing to release all the kidnapped women," government spokesman Eylon Levy claimed in a briefing.
"Having chosen to hold onto our women, Hamas will now take the mother of all thumpings."