Abu Obaida said in a video statement Monday that the Al-Qassam Brigades has about 200 hostages, while the rest are being held by other “militant formations” in Gaza.
He added that they cannot determine the exact number of hostages in the strip due to constant Israeli bombardment.
Earlier on Monday, the Israeli military announced at least 199 people are being held hostage in Gaza.
Abu Obaida also claimed 22 of the hostages in Gaza were killed in Israeli airstrikes, including an Israeli artist who he said died on Saturday.
He added that Al-Qassam Brigades will be releasing hostages holding foreign citizenship when “the opportunity arises on the ground,” and stated Al-Qassam is “committed” to protecting them.
He also warned that any foreign national serving with the Israeli military will be considered a “direct enemy.”
Meanwhile, former Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal claimed Hamas has “enough hostages”, including high ranking officers from the Gaza division of the Israeli Defense Forces, to release thousands of Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails.
“One of this battle’s goals was to take Israeli soldiers and officers hostage to clear Zionist prisons from our own people,” Meshaal told Alaraby TV in a live interview on Monday, adding that Hamas will be dealing with civilians and foreign nationals differently.
“Military hostages have their own calculations, civilians and foreign nationals have others,” Meshaal continued. “Hamas leadership will deal with hostages in accordance with international and humanitarian law.”