MONDAY, April 15, 2024

Hamas reports seven hostages killed in Israeli bombing of Gaza

Hamas reports seven hostages killed in Israeli bombing of Gaza

The military wing of the Palestinian group Hamas has confirmed that seven hostages held in the Gaza Strip have died due to Israel's bombardment of the besieged enclave. Abu Obeida, the spokesperson for Qassam Brigades, made this announcement on Friday through Telegram.

The group conducted investigations over the past few weeks after losing contact with the fighters responsible for holding the hostages.

Hamas seized approximately 250 Israelis and foreign individuals, including Thai labourers, during its October 7 attacks in southern Israel, and around 130 are believed to still be held captive.

In the statement released on Friday, the Qassam Brigades identified three of the captives mentioned but did not specify when the seven had died.

The group estimates that the total number of captives killed as a result of Israeli military operations "may have exceeded" 70.

Omar Ashour, a professor of security and military studies at the Doha Institute for Graduate Studies, remarked that the deaths of the hostages indicate that Israel's government considers them a "secondary priority."

According to Ashour, the Israeli military's primary objective is to destroy Hamas' armed wing and other Palestinian factions, even at the cost of hostages' lives.

As the conflict persists, with the reported deaths on Friday, it appears that Israel's war strategy is not achieving its objectives.

Ashour noted, "We are on the 147th day of the war, and there are more and more hostages dying, the majority of them by Israeli fire."

During a Qatari-mediated weeklong truce in November, 105 captives were released in exchange for 150 Palestinian women and children held in Israeli prisons.

Ashour emphasized that negotiating the safe release of hostages, as done before, is the only viable approach. He added, "The Israeli government knows that; they just don't want to admit it."

Israel's war on Gaza has resulted in at least 30,228 Palestinian casualties, according to the Gaza Ministry of Health, while the death toll in Israel from the October 7 attacks stands at 1,139.

Mediators from Egypt, Qatar, and the United States are currently working to secure a new truce.

In recent telephone talks, the leaders of these countries outlined the conditions for a ceasefire deal, with the White House stating that the release of hostages would lead to an immediate and sustained ceasefire in Gaza for at least six weeks.