Hamas rejects truce with Israel in exchange for release of hostages

Hamas has rejected an Israeli offer of a week-long truce in the Gaza Strip in exchange for the release of some 40 hostages the group is holding. Egyptian officials told The Wall Street Journal that Israel had offered to halt ground and air operations in the region for a week. In return, Hamas was also expected to release women, children and elderly men in need of urgent medical attention.

But Hamas and Islamic Jihad told Egyptian mediators that Israel must suspend its offensive in the Gaza Strip before they would be willing to discuss any potential deal. Islamic Jihad has demanded that Israel release all Palestinian prisoners and held members of the group.Israel said it would not end its military campaign and that the condition was not conducive to negotiations.

Egyptian officials assured reporters that Hamas’ rejection of the offer should not be seen as a failure of negotiations. The group is attempting to extract further concessions from Israel through these actions. Egyptian intelligence officials discussed the proposal with Hamas politburo chief Ismail Haniyeh, who arrived in Cairo on Wednesday, December 20. This is his second visit to Egypt since Hamas militants attacked Israel on Oct. 7.

During a week-long truce in late November, 105 civilians were released from Hamas captivity. A total of 129 hostages are believed to remain in Gaza afterward, but not all of them may be alive. Hamas separately freed four hostages, while another one was rescued by the military. IDF forces also found the bodies of eight hostages in Gaza, while three more hostages were mistakenly killed by Israeli soldiers.

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