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Updated December 21st, 2023 at 13:36 IST

Hamas demands Israel end ground offensive in Gaza before two sides discuss hostage deal

Hamas wants Israel to end its offensive operation in the Gaza Strip before the two sides can sit to discuss a fresh ceasefire deal.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Hamas' political leader Ismail Haniyeh
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Hamas' political leader Ismail Haniyeh | Image:AP
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Cairo: As the ongoing Israel-Hamas war continues to intensify, reports are emerging that Hamas wants Israel to end its offensive operation in the Gaza Strip before the two sides can sit to discuss a fresh ceasefire deal. The report of Hamas' recent demand came a day after the United States informed that the group's chief is in Egypt to discuss another ceasefire deal. The ongoing negotiation emerged after a UN resolution calling for a lengthier ceasefire and more aid deliveries were delayed for the third time. 

Ismail Haniyeh, a Qatar-based Hamas political leader, arrived in Egypt for the negotiation talks on Wednesday, The Guardian reported. A source briefed on the negotiation told local reporters that the envoys are intensely discussing which of the hostages currently under Hamas' captivity can be freed in a new truce deal with Israel. The source also informed that a leader of Islamic Jihad, a smaller Palestinian militant group also holding hostages in Gaza, is expected to join the meeting on Thursday. The negotiation started shortly after an official estimate of the death toll in Gaza passed 20,000.

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Hamas remains adamant

Taher Al-Nono, Haniyeh’s media adviser told local reporters after the first meeting that Hamas is not willing to discuss the release of Israeli hostages, until the Jewish nation concludes its military operation in Gaza, The Guardian reported. “The issue of prisoners can be negotiated after these two matters are achieved. We cannot talk about negotiations while Israel continues its aggression. Discussing any proposal related to prisoners must occur after the cessation of aggression,” Nono said in an interview in Cairo. “We have talked with our brothers in Egypt, outlining our stance on this aggression and the urgent need to stop it as a top priority,” he added.

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No hostage deal for now: Biden

While speaking to reporters on Wednesday, US President Joe Biden said that he does not expect a new hostage deal between Israel and Hamas to come anytime soon. "There's no expectation at this point, but we are pushing," the president averred. Earlier this week, Israel said earlier this week that it would pause the fighting in Gaza for at least one week, in exchange for three dozen hostages the terror group is currently holding. Amid the chaos, White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said that the Biden administration is still hopeful that the ongoing talks would “head somewhere”.  

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Published December 21st, 2023 at 13:30 IST

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