On Saturday, Abu Obeida confirmed that Israel killed 60 Israeli hostages in Gaza throughout the month-long bombardment.
Hamas said it was close to releasing 12 foreign captives from Gaza before Israel obstructed the process with its intensifying bombardment on the besieged Strip, amid reports of efforts by Qatar and the US to establish a three day pause.
Al-Qassam Brigades’ spokesperson Abu Obeida on Tuesday said the movement was “about to release 12 detainees in Gaza who held foreign nationalities” several days ago “but the occupation obstructed that”.
“We are still ready to release them, but the situation on the ground and the Zionist aggression that threatens their lives is what hinders this from being completed,” the statement added.
Al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ armed wing, is believed to have 242 captives who were captured during the group’s October 7 operation, known as “Operation Al Aqsa Flood”. At the time, the Palestinian resistance group managed to infiltrate occupied territories through air, land and sea after facing a 16-year siege in Gaza.
Following the historic operation, Israel declared its deadliest war to date on Gaza and vowed to reduce the densely-populated enclave to rubble in its bid to wipe Hamas “off the face of earth”.
However, one month on, Israeli occupation forces (IOF) have killed at least 10,328 Palestinians, including 4,237 children—40% of the overall toll. On Saturday, Abu Obeida confirmed that Israel also killed 60 Israeli captives in Gaza throughout its month-long bombardment.
“Still there are 23 bodies (of hostages) lost under the rubble,” Abu Obeida said at the time.”It seems we won’t be able to reach them due to the ongoing brutal aggression by the occupation on Gaza.”
Israel’s Western allies, including the United States, contacted Qatar within the first hours of the operation in an effort to secure the captives release. Doha, which hosts a Hamas political bureau, managed to reach a breakthrough last month with the release of four captives on “humanitarian grounds”, though little progress has been made since.
Qatari officials have blamed the stalemate on Israel’s non-stop bombardment of Gaza and say a period of calm is needed to facilitate negotiations.
“With this violence increasing everyday, with this bombing continuous everyday our task has become even more difficult. But despite that, we remain hopeful, we remain committed to our role of reaching out to the parties with the aim of reaching a positive result,” Qatar’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr. Mohammed Al Khulaifi told Sky News on October 26.
He added: “In any normal scenario, if the mediator wants to perform its task in the best way possible, we need to reach a period of calm, we need to reach a period where we can speak logically to both sides and come up with positive initiatives on that.”
Despite this, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected all attempts to reach a permanent ceasefire in Gaza and has snubbed Washington’s calls for a “humanitarian pause” to release captives.
On Saturday, US President Joe Biden suggested there has been progress in securing a “humanitarian pause” in Gaza, AFP reported.
Biden, who has been heavily criticised for Washington’s unconditional support of Israel as it wages its most brutal war on Gaza to date, replied to a question on the matter as he left a church in Delaware.
The US president said “yes” and gave a thumbs up without providing further details, according to AFP.
On Monday, the White House said Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu discussed “the possibility of tactical pauses to provide civilians with opportunities to safely depart from areas of ongoing fighting, to ensure assistance is reaching civilians in need, and to enable potential hostage releases.”
The report said this is part of a proposal being discussed between Qatar, the US and Israel that would see Hamas release 10-15 captives during a three-day potential pause.
Despite working alongside Qatar to de-escalate tensions, the US has continued to support Israel.
Last week, the US House passed a Republican bill to provide Israel with $14bn in aid to bolster Israel’s military capabilities. It includes $4 billion to boost Israel’s Iron Dome, David’s Sling missile defence systems as well as military equipment transferred from US stocks, Al Jazeera reported.
The occupying state is already getting $3.8 billion per year in military assistance and has received aid from the US worth more than $124 billion since its establishment following the Second World War.
Meanwhile, the IOF has been advancing militarily into Gaza for weeks as part of its attempts to launch a full-scale ground invasion into the Strip. Hamas fighters have been fighting off such attempts and has destroyed a number of Israeli tanks.
On Tuesday, Al-Qaasam Brigades confirmed that it destroyed an Israeli tank northwest of Beit Lahia after attacking two others southwest of Gaza City.