The Al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Hamas military, said that it was ready to release some foreign hostages currently being held in Gaza, within a few days. “We informed the mediators officially that we will release a number of them in the coming days as we no longer need to detain them,” Xinhua news agency quoted the armed wing’s spokesman Abu Obaida as saying in a recorded message on Tuesday. He also added that “some countries intervened through mediators to free some detainees with foreign nationalities.”
According to Israel, about 240 hostages were still being held in Gaza. Since Hamas launched its surprise assault against Israel on October 7, the militant group has released four hostages — two Americans and two Israelis — in two separate moves aided by Qatari and Egyptian mediation. However, efforts to negotiate a larger hostage swap have stalled. Hamas has been asking Israel to free thousands of Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the remaining hostages. Israel has dismissed the demand, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu suggesting that a ground offensive in Gaza may increase the chances of securing the hostages’ release. On Monday, Netanyahu also rejected calls for a ceasefire to facilitate the hostages’ release. He faces growing pressure to free the hostages, as the Israeli army is conducting an intense offensive on the Palestinian enclave ruled by Hamas.