Hamas said it is delaying the release of a second group of hostages it agreed to release under a cease-fire deal with Israel, multiple news organizations reported, claiming Israel violated the agreement that has temporarily halted the ferocious fighting in Gaza.
Hamas and Israel reportedly agreed that the Palestinian prisoners who’d served the most time in prison would be released Friday, but that wasn’t the case, which Hamas argues is a violation, Axios reported, citing an anonymous source with direct knowledge.
Hamas also said Israel flew reconnaissance drones over southern Gaza, a violation of the cease-fire, according to Axios and Bloomberg.
Israel previously said it anticipated Hamas would release this group of hostages Saturday evening, Bloomberg reported.
Hamas has already released 13 Israeli hostages—as well as 11 Thai and Filipino nationals in a separate deal—and has agreed to release a total of 50 as part of a cease-fire agreement.
A spokesperson for the Israeli military, speaking to French television channel BFM, contended that Israel fully complied with the terms of the truce, Reuters reported.
On Friday, Hamas and Israel paused the fighting for the first time since Hamas attacked southern Israel on Oct. 7, taking 240 hostages and killing around 1,200 people, according to Israeli officials. Israel responded to that attack with frequent air strikes and a ground military incursion. More than 14,500 people have been killed in Gaza since Israel declared war, according to the Hamas-controlled Health Ministry. On Wednesday, Qatar, which had been serving as an intermediary, announced the two sides had struck a deal to release 50 Israeli hostages, 150 Palestinian prisoners and pause the fighting for four days while humanitarian aid could flow into Gaza.
What To Watch For
Both sides have vowed to continue fighting following the cease-fire period even if this hostage dispute is resolved. Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said he expects the conflict will continue “at least two more months,” saying this is simply “a brief pause” and “when it ends, the fighting will continue forcefully, and will create pressure that will allow the return of more hostages,” as quoted by CNN. On the other hand, the pause in fighting could be extended. As part of the deal, Israel agreed to prolong the cease-fire by one day for each additional 10 hostages Hamas releases.