Hamas says it’s ready and willing for another temporary truce and hostage/prisoner deal exchange with Israel, while issuing a new warning Sunday saying that if its demands aren’t met, no hostage would leave the Gaza Strip alive.
“Neither the fascist enemy and its arrogant leadership… nor its supporters… can take their prisoners alive without an exchange and negotiation and meeting the demands of the resistance,” Hamas spokesman Abu Obeida said in a televised broadcast.
Hamas wants more Palestinians held in Israeli prisons to be freed, after it gained the release of 240 Palestinian prisoners and in exchange released 105 captives during the prior week-long truce.
There are believed to still be 137 hostages held somewhere in the Gaza Strip, at a moment fighting rages in both northern and southern urban areas.
“We have no choice but to fight this barbaric occupier in every neighborhood, street and alley,” Obeida said further while boasting that Hamas has taken out 180 Israeli personnel carriers, tanks and bulldozers. “The enemy’s holocaust aims to break the strength of our resistance… but we are fighting on our land in a holy battle.”
But holding out the possibility of another deal, Obeida also said that the “temporary truce proved our credibility.” The death toll has soared since the end of the truce. The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry now says that at least 17,700 people – most of them civilians – have been killed since Oct.7.
Meanwhile, Israeli tanks are reported to have reached the center of the major southern city of Khan Younis, amid reports of some of the heaviest overnight fighting ever seen in this southern area of the Strip.
A senior Israeli defense official has told Axios that the military expects that it will take three to four more weeks to completely secure Khan Younis and wrap up fighting there:
A senior Israeli official said Israeli Defense Forces “have made significant progress” in the northern part of the Gaza Strip, but that the operation in the southern city of Khan Younis, where Israel believes Hamas leadership is located, “has just started.”
Even as world pressure grows, and with the United States being the lone dissenter voting down a Friday UN Security Council draft resolution calling for ceasefire, the Biden administration has refrained from criticism of Israel’s seeming indiscriminate bombing campaign.
Hamas publishes new ground view war video in Khan Younis…
— EHA News (@eha_news) December 10, 2023
White House deputy national security adviser Jon Finer said days ago there the US is not giving Israel any firm deadline. “This is their conflict. That said, we do have influence, even if we don’t have ultimate control over what happens on the ground in Gaza,” Finer said.