A Hamas representative stated on Friday that the Palestinian terror organization cannot release the individuals it has taken captive during its conflict with Israel until a ceasefire agreement is reached.
Abu Hamid, a member of a Hamas delegation visiting Moscow, was quoted by the Russian newspaper Kommersant, explaining that Hamas must first determine the whereabouts of the hostages inside the Gaza Strip, which have been taken by various Palestinian factions, as mentioned by Reuters.
Hamid said, “They seized dozens of people, most of them civilians, and we need time to locate them within the Gaza Strip before we can secure their release.”
This development coincides with the increase in the number of hostages held by Hamas militants in Gaza, as indicated by Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spokesperson Brig. Gen. Daniel Hagari on Friday. The count on Friday stands at 229 hostages, which is five more than the 224 hostages reported on Thursday.
The number is expected to change as ongoing operations continue to unfold, according to Hagari.
Hamas captured of hostages during its brutal attack on Israel on October 7, and thus far only four individuals have been released from captivity. This includes a mother and daughter from the Chicago area, as well as two elderly Israeli women.
Brig. Gen. Hagari stressed that the IDF is directing all of its efforts towards the top priority of safely bringing the hostages back home.