Hamas chief rejects hostage deal compromise, demands Israel withdraw from Gaza

Hamas leader-in-exile Ismail Haniyeh doubles down on demands for total Israeli withdrawal from Gaza as condition for hostage deal.

By David Rosenberg, World Israel News

Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh on Wednesday ruled out a compromise with Israel for a hostage deal, doubling down on the terror group’s demands which Israel has already ruled out.

Speaking in a televised address marking Al-Quds Day, Ismail Haniyeh, chairman of the Hamas politburo in exile in Qatar,  said the terror group would not agree to a hostage deal without the total withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza, the full return of Gazans to all portions of the Strip, an end to the security blockade of Gaza, expanded aid permitted into the coastal enclave, and the reconstruction of Gaza.

“We are committed to our demands: the permanent ceasefire, comprehensive and complete withdrawal of the enemy out of the Gaza Strip, the return of all displaced people to their homes, allowing all aid needed for our people in Gaza, rebuilding the Strip, lifting the blockade and achieving an honourable prisoner exchange deal,” Haniyeh said.

The terror chief accused Israel of continuing to “evade, resist” responding to Hamas’ demands.

Israel has offered a six-week truce and the release of hundreds of jailed terrorists, including a number of high-profile terrorists convicted of major offenses, in exchange for the release of approximately 40 Israeli captives held hostage in Gaza since October 7th.

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There are a total of 134 Israeli hostages still in Gaza, though as many as half may no longer be alive, according to an Israeli official who spoke with Ha’aretz.

Israeli leaders, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, have repeatedly ruled out a permanent ceasefire and vowed to carried out the IDF’s much-anticipated ground operation in Rafah, the last remaining Hamas stronghold in the Gaza Strip.