Hamas’ armed wing said on Saturday it would delay the release of a second group of hostages in the Gaza Strip until Israel “respects the agreement” that took effect the day before.
The Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades specifically demands that “humanitarian aid trucks enter the north of the Gaza Strip” and respect “selection criteria” for the release of Palestinian prisoners, they pointed out in a press release. Israeli officials told AFP the hostages had not yet been handed over to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which is responsible for handing them over to Israel. They added that Israel had not violated the agreement.
A “second group” of hostages, after being handed over to the ICRC, stopped at “Khan Younes” in the south of the Gaza Strip and “couldn’t go to Rafah”, a crossing point into Egypt, a source close to Hamas told AFP.
Earlier, Israeli officials announced that fourteen hostages held by Hamas in Gaza would be released on Saturday in exchange for 42 Palestinian prisoners.
On Friday, 13 Israeli hostages — women and children — returned home in exchange for the release of 39 Palestinian prisoners, women and youth.
The releases by both camps coincided with a four-day renewable ceasefire, secured by Qatar with the backing of the US and Egypt, which was respected on Saturday. The deal, reached after weeks of negotiations, allows for the release of 50 hostages held by Hamas and 150 Palestinians held in Israeli jails.