Hamas says contact lost with group holding five hostages

December 24, 2023 by Reuters
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Hamas says it has lost contact with a group responsible for five Israeli hostages being held captive in the Gaza Strip due to Israeli bombardment.

Israeli military forces inside the Gaza Strip on Nov. 14, 2023. Photo by IDF Spokesperson

The Palestinian Islamist group believes the hostages were killed during an Israeli raid, Abu Ubaida, the spokesman for the armed wing of Hamas, al-Qassam Brigades, was quoted as saying in a statement on the group’s Telegram channel.

Reuters was not able to verify the report and there was no immediate response from the Israeli authorities.

Israel says Hamas seized about 240 hostages when it killed 1200 people in a rampage around southern Israel on October 7.

Hamas said last month that more than 60 hostages were missing due to Israeli air strikes.

There has been no confirmation of that number but Israel believes that 20 or more of the 130 hostages still held in Gaza are dead.

The terrorists released more than 100 hostages as part of a week-long ceasefire agreement at the end of November that included the release of 240 Palestinian women and teenagers from Israeli jails.

“We shall press ahead, for every fallen soldier, too. Until Hamas is eliminated. Until the hostages are returned,” Israeli Energy Minister Israel Katz, a member of the security cabinet, posted on X.

Families of the hostages held a new rally on Saturday, demanding that Israel consider releasing senior Palestinian terrorists from jail in any new swap deal.

Thick smoke hung over the northern town of Jabalia – which is also home to Gaza’s largest refugee camp – on Saturday and residents reported persistent aerial bombardment and shelling from Israeli tanks, which they said had moved further into the town.

Al-Qassam Brigades said it had destroyed five Israeli tanks in the area, killing and injuring their crews, after reusing two undetonated missiles launched earlier by Israel.

Reuters could not independently verify the report.

Israel’s chief military spokesperson said on Friday that its forces had achieved almost complete operational control of northern Gaza and were preparing to expand the ground offensive to other areas in the Strip, with a focus on the south.

The Israeli Defence Forces said on Saturday they had fired decoy shots in the area of Issa in Gaza City that lured dozens of militants from a building that served as a Hamas headquarters in the north of the enclave.

“During the joint operational activity, IDF ground and intelligence troops directed an IAF fighter jet to strike the building, eliminating the terrorists,” it said.

The army also released a video it said showed Hamas tunnels in the Issa area.

Reuters could not independently verify the location or the date.

Israel accuses the militant group of placing tunnels and other military infrastructure among civilians to use them as human shields, something Hamas denies.

Later on Saturday, residents and Palestinian media reported that Israeli tanks shelled the town of Juhr ad-Deek in central Gaza.

There was no immediate word on casualties.

At least 201 Palestinians have been killed over the past 24 hours, taking the death toll to 20,258 during the 11-week conflict, the Palestinian health ministry said on Saturday, with thousands more bodies believed trapped under rubble.

Almost all of Gaza’s 2.3 million people have been displaced. Israel says 140 of its soldiers have been killed since it launched its ground incursion on October 20, in response to the October 7 rampage into Israel by Gaza’s ruling Hamas militants.

US President Joe Biden discussed the situation with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday, the White House said.

Israel’s main ally has kept up its support while expressing concern over the growing casualty toll and humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

Reuters via AAP


One Response to “Hamas says contact lost with group holding five hostages”
  1. Liat Kirby says:

    We can’t believe anything Hamas says. They play games with us to suit themselves.
    And yet the world continues to bandy about the statistics of Gazan dead handed out each day as if the Hamas Health Ministry is impeccably correct.

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