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Hamas derails Gaza truce by refusing to release 17 hostages — Israeli defense minister

Hamas must return all women and children captured on October 7, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said

TEL AVIV, December 2. /TASS/. The radical Palestinian movement Hamas is responsible for the collapse of the humanitarian truce in the Gaza Strip, as, in Tel Aviv’s opinion, it has refused to release 17 women and children held hostage, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said.

"The ceasefire agreement between Hamas and Israel, brokered by US, Qatari and Egyptian mediators, was inked on concrete terms, which are as follows: Hamas must return all women and children captured on October 7. Hamas has violated that agreement. After it handed over 80 abductees, which is crucial in general, it has been refusing to release 17 women and children still in its hands, or 15 women and 2 children," he told a press conference.

"Due to this decision of Hamas not to comply with the deal and in accordance with the decisions of the military cabinet, I ordered the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) to resume fire yesterday morning," the defense minister added.

Gallant pointed out that Israel does not intend to enter into a next round of talks on the release of other groups of hostages until Hamas frees that group of 17 women and children.

"Hamas has grossly violated the agreement, which we reached alongside the United States, Egypt and Qatar," he said. "Every discussion that will focus on the future release of the abductees before Hamas meets its commitments in regard to those [people] it had already pledged to return is tantamount to refusing to release the 17 women and children who are still in Hamas’ hands. We insist that they [Hamas] should comply with their previous commitments," Gallant pointed out.

Escalation of Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Tensions flared up in the Middle East after Hamas militants from the Gaza Strip attacked Israeli territory on October 7, killing residents of border settlements and taking hostages, including women, children and the elderly. Hamas views its attack as a response to Israeli authorities’ steps against the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. Israel declared a total blockade of the Gaza Strip and launched bombardments of the enclave and some areas in Lebanon and Syria.

On November 22, Hamas announced an agreement with Israel, which was brokered by Egypt and Qatar, on a four-day humanitarian truce in the Gaza Strip, which came into effect on November 24. Under the deal, women and children under the age of 19 held hostage in the enclave were to be released in return for the release of women and teenagers from Israeli prisons. On November 27, Israel and Hamas agreed to extend the truce for two more days on the previous terms, which were as follows: three Palestinian captives would be released daily in return for each freed Israeli hostage.

On the morning of November 30, the IDF announced that the truce was extended in the enclave for another day. However, early on December 1, the IDF blamed Hamas for violating the truce and said that it was resuming combat in the Gaza Strip in response.