• Tel Aviv

  • Thursday, December 21, 2023 at 7:30 AM
    Last Update : Tuesday, January 2, 2024 at 6:06 AM

Families of Israeli Hostages Held by Hamas in Gaza Demand Their Release

(AWP) - Families of Israeli hostages held by Hamas in Gaza continued their sit-in outside the Ministry of Defence in Tel Aviv to demand the completion of an exchange deal that would ensure the return of their relatives alive.

Ritali, a demonstrator from Kibbutz Nir Oz, said, "I am here to demonstrate with the families so that they can return their children to their homes and lives because every day they stay there [in Gaza] they are exposed to danger and bombing, and we must work to return them alive. We cannot leave them there because time is passing quickly, and time is critical for them there, and we must bring them back alive."

Protests in Israel surged following the army’s announcement on Friday that it had killed three Israeli hostages "by mistake" in the al-Shujaiyya neighbourhood, east of the Gaza Strip.

The Israeli army had misidentified the three hostages as a threat and opened fire, killing all of them after they had escaped captivity.

The Israeli channel i24news quoted Israeli President Isaac Herzog as saying on Tuesday that his country is willing to reach another humanitarian truce and allow an increase in humanitarian aid to enter Gaza, in return for the release of more hostages detained by Palestinian factions in the Strip.

Herzog said that “the entire responsibility lies with Sinwar and the leaders of Hamas," referring to a Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip, Yahya Sinwar.

On Monday, another Hamas official, Osama Hamdan, affirmed his movement’s readiness to accept any initiative put forward by Qatar and Egypt aimed at stopping the Israeli "aggression," as mediators race against time to reach a new hostage exchange deal between Hamas and Israel.

However, Hamdan added in a press conference in Beirut that "there will be no negotiation on a prisoner exchange deal until the aggression stops completely."

The Israeli Public Broadcasting Corporation (KAN) said that Mossad chief, David Barnea, presented the Israeli War Council with possible outlines of a prisoner exchange deal with Hamas, noting that he had been given the green light to negotiate the matter with the mediators.