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Hamas links release of Israeli hostages with ceasefire in Gaza and withdrawal of troops

Hamas has demanded a permanent cessation of hostilities before considering the release of hostages held by Gaza-based terrorists. Hamas also demanded the withdrawal of Israeli troops from Gaza before considering the release of Israeli hostages. Despite ongoing discussions in Cairo for a potential truce, little headway seemed to be made.

According to a Hamas official, a complete ceasefire and the withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza were deemed prerequisites for substantial negotiations regarding a hostage-prisoner exchange, according to the Times of Israel.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated Israel’s stance, emphasizing an unwavering commitment to fight until achieving victory. He stated unequivocally, “We will not halt the war until we attain all objectives—eradicating Hamas and securing the release of our hostages.”

Netanyahu presented Hamas with a stark ultimatum: “Surrender or face dire consequences. No other alternatives exist.”

Additionally, he signaled a post-Hamas agenda aimed at neutralizing Gaza’s threat to Israel, indicating an intent to continue leadership without publicly acknowledging the failures that allowed the October 7 Hamas attacks.

Regarding negotiations, a senior Israeli official informed reporters that active talks for a new hostage release agreement with Hamas were currently nonexistent. However, Israeli officials had engaged with Qatari counterparts twice during the week to explore a fresh framework for such an agreement.

The official stressed the need to establish a new structure for hostage releases, citing the success of a previous deal that led to the release of 105 hostages during a week-long ceasefire, during which Israel freed 240 Palestinian security prisoners. Israel expressed readiness to discuss further stages to secure the return of the remaining 129 hostages to Israel.

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I am an experienced writer, analyst, and author. My exposure in English journalism spans more than 28 years. In the past, I have been working with daily The Muslim (Lahore Bureau), daily Business Recorder (Lahore/Islamabad Bureaus), Daily Times, Islamabad, daily The Nation (Lahore and Karachi). With daily The Nation, I have served as Resident Editor, Karachi. Since 2009, I have been working as a Freelance Writer/Editor for American organizations.

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