Hamas sets new conditions for release of Israeli hostages

Hamas sets new conditions for release of Israeli hostages

A Hamas official has linked the release of hostages held in Gaza to a ceasefire in Israel's bombardment of the enclave, initiated after a deadly incursion by Hamas militants into southern Israel approximately three weeks ago.

Israel is considering a ground invasion, but it has been advised by the U.S. and Arab nations to postpone such an operation to avoid escalating civilian casualties in the densely populated area and sparking a broader conflict.

In retaliation for attacks on U.S. forces by Iranian-backed militias following the Gaza war, two U.S. fighter jets targeted weapons and ammunition facilities in Syria. An opinion poll published on Friday indicated that nearly half of Israelis now support delaying a ground invasion due to concerns for the safety of approximately 224 hostages reportedly held in Gaza.

A member of a Hamas delegation visiting Moscow stated that time is required to locate all those who were abducted by various Palestinian factions during the Hamas attack on October 7.

These abductions involved dozens of people, primarily civilians, and Hamas intends to release them, but they emphasize the need for a "calm environment." There have been clashes between Palestinian militants and Israeli troops in at least two areas within the Gaza Strip, although the Israeli military has not immediately confirmed these reports.

Additionally, residents in central Gaza reported an apparent exchange of fire, heavy shelling, and air strikes along the border. Israeli forces attempted to land on a beach at the southern end of the Strip, according to Hamas's al-Qassam Brigades. Israel has stated that its fighter jets struck three senior Hamas operatives who played significant roles in the October 7 attack, although there has been no announcement by Hamas.

In the afternoon, rocket sirens sounded in southern Israel, and an Israeli medic reported three people wounded when a missile struck an apartment building in Tel Aviv.

Tragically, in the Jabalia refugee camp in northern Gaza, an airstrike killed the pregnant wife of a Palestinian lawyer, Jehad Al-Kafarnah, along with her 8-month-old stillborn child.