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Hamas official claims: No one has an idea how many hostages are still alive

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(A7) A senior Hamas official claimed on Thursday that “no one has an idea” how many of the 120 hostages still being held by the group are alive, and that any deal to release them must include guarantees of a permanent ceasefire and the complete withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza.
In an interview with CNN, Hamas spokesperson and political bureau member Osama Hamdan said that the latest proposal on the table did not meet the group’s demands for an end to the war.
Hamdan told CNN that Hamas needed “a clear position from Israel to accept the ceasefire, a complete withdrawal from Gaza, and let the Palestinians to determine their future by themselves, the reconstruction, the (lifting) of the siege … and we are ready to talk about a fair deal about the prisoners exchange.”
Hamdan added that the duration of the ceasefire was a key issue for Hamas, which is concerned that Israel has no intention of following through with the second phase of the deal. The end of hostilities must be permanent, he said, and Israel must withdraw from Gaza completely.
“The Israelis want the ceasefire only for six weeks and then they want to go back to the fight, which I think the Americans, till now, they did not convince the Israelis to accept (a permanent ceasefire),” said Hamdan, adding that he believes the US needs to convince Israel to accept a permanent ceasefire as part of the deal.
Hamdan in the interview also called the October 7 terror attacks, which sparked the current war in Gaza, “a reaction against the occupation.”
“The one who is in charge or responsible for that is (the Israeli) occupation. If you resist the occupation, (they) will kill you, if you did not resist the occupation, (they) also will kill you and deport you out of your country. So what we are supposed to do, just to wait?,” he told CNN.
Hamdan’s interview with CNN came two days after the group Hamas gave its official response to the proposal for a hostage and ceasefire deal which was outlined by President Joe Biden.
A senior Israeli official said Israel had received Hamas’ response and added that the terrorist organization rejected Biden’s proposal.
Nevertheless, Hamas political bureau member Izzat Al-Rishq insisted in a conversation with Reuters that the group’s response “opens a wide path” to reach an agreement.
He further claimed that Hamas’ response is “responsible, serious and positive”.
According to the proposal outlined by Biden, the first phase of the three-phase process would last for six weeks and would include a full and complete ceasefire, withdrawal of Israeli forces from all populated areas of Gaza, and the release of a number of hostages, including women, the elderly, and the wounded, in exchange for the release of hundreds of Palestinian Arab prisoners.
Phase two would see the release of all remaining living hostages, while phase three would encompass “a major reconstruction plan for Gaza,” said the President, as well as the repatriation of the remains of deceased hostages to their families.

 

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