On Saturday, Abu Obeida said that Hamas had informed Qatar that it was ready to release two additional female captives but the move was rejected by Israel.
“With Egyptian and Qatari mediation, we released two detainees for humanitarian reasons, whom the enemy had previously refused to receive,” Abu Obeida said in a statement on Telegram, identifying the pair as 79-year old Nurit Yitzhak and 85-year-old Yocheved Lifshitz.
Abu Obeida added that the release of the two captives to Egypt was due to “compelling humanitarian and medical reasons, despite the occupation committing more than eight violations of procedures.”
“It was agreed with the mediators that the occupation would adhere to procedures during the handover of the two detainees, but it [Israel] violated them,” he said, without elaborating on the conditions.
Their release comes days after Qatari mediation resulted in the release of two American captives, identified as Judith Raanan and Natalie Raanan—a mother and a daughter.
On Saturday, Abu Obeida said Hamas informed Qatar that it was ready to release two additional female captives “for humanitarian reasons” but the move was rejected by Israel. However, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denied an offer was proposed.
Israel declared war on the Strip on 7 October in response to ‘Operation Al-Aqsa Flood’, an unprecedented attack on Israel carried out by the Al-Qassam Brigades—Hamas’ armed wing.
The historic operation saw the Palestinian resistance group break out from the besieged Gaza Strip and into occupied areas through air, land and sea attacks.
The resistance group captured at least 200 Israelis, including members of the occupation forces, and a number of western citizens.
Reports last week said the US immediately reached out to Qatar, the host of a Hamas political bureau, in order to secure the release of the captives in the aftermath of the attack.
Israel has also used the captives issue and the Palestinian resistance operation as its pretext for its deadly war on Gaza. Within 17 days, Israeli occupation forces have killed at least 5,087 Palestinians, including more than 1,700 children.
The IOF has also killed more than 10 Israeli captives that were held in Gaza through its relentless bombing campaign.
“The Israelis are evasive, and this initiative shows that they are not interested in the return of the prisoners,” an official from Hamas’ prisoner file told Al Jazeera on Saturday.
The Hamas official added that Netanyahu “kills prisoners held by the resistance and does not want them to return safely.”
The Israeli PM has been under pressure from citizens to ensure the return of the captives as his government threatens to “deepen” its strikes on Gaza in preparation for a ground invasion.
Meanwhile, a Bloomberg report earlier this week said that the United States and European governments have been pushing Israel to delay its planned ground invasion in order to provide a window for covert talks mediated by Qatar to secure the release of more captives.
Qatar has been at the forefront of de-escalation efforts since the start of the deadly Israeli aggression on Gaza.
Officials in Doha have since been in close contact with key international partners— namely the US, the United Kingdom, Iran, Turkiye, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, among others—in an effort to end the Israeli escalations in Gaza.
Qatar has built a reputation of successful mediation over the years, helping world powers release hostages and prisoners globally. Last month, Qatar managed to secure a milestone US-Iran prisoner swap.