Hamas says ready to release hostages anytime if ceasefire is declared

Palestinian movement Hamas is ready to release all women, children and foreign citizens it is currently holding hostage if Israel releases women and children from its prisons and a ceasefire agreement is reached, a high-ranking member and spokesman of the group has said.

“We are ready to release women, children and foreigners at any time, in exchange for the release of women and children, kept in prisons by the occupying government. Naturally, [this will be possible] only when a humanitarian ceasefire is reached, enabling the delivery of aid to all regions of the Gaza Strip without exception,” Izzat Al Risheq, a member of the movement’s Political Bureau, and the head of the Hamas Media Office, wrote on Telegram on Tuesday.

Al Risheq also stated that Israel was reluctant to reach an agreement on the issue. In his opinion, Tel Aviv was deliberately creating delays in the negotiation process, because it was not interested in having a ceasefire with Hamas.

Only a handful of hostages have been released so far since the start of the war between Israel and Hamas.

The United States, Israel and Hamas — with Qatar playing a significant mediating role — have been engaged in talks for weeks to free the hostages from Gaza.

The parties are working toward a deal that would entail a sustained, days-long pause in fighting in exchange for a large group of hostages being freed, according to reports.

Israel recently asked for 100 hostages to be released, according to a Hamas spokesman and a source familiar with the negotiations.

A statement from the Al Qassam Brigades, Hamas’s military wing, said negotiations were focusing on the possible release of 70 women and children in exchange for a pause in the fighting of five days.

A senior Israeli official acknowledged Hamas is looking to release as few people as possible in exchange for the longest possible ceasefire but added Israel would agree to one if there were a “serious deal” offered.

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