The Israeli Prime Minister's office dismissed the terrorist organisation's recent demands as "ridiculous demands"

Hamas demands release of 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Israeli hostages

Un combatiente de Hamás hace guardia mientras un vehículo de la Cruz Roja transporta a rehenes recién liberados en Rafah, en el sur de la Franja de Gaza, el 28 de noviembre de 2023 - AFP
A Red Cross vehicle carries hostages recently released during the November truce - AFP

Hamas has presented a Gaza ceasefire proposal to mediators that includes a first stage release of Israeli women, children, the elderly and sick abducted since 7 October in exchange for the release of between 700 and 1,000 Palestinian prisoners, Reuters reports. 

  1. Qatar threatens to expel Hamas if no deal is reached 
  2. Hamas warns of possible escalation of violence during Ramadan 

Among the Palestinian prisoners, the terrorist group is demanding the release of 100 serving life sentences in Israeli prisons in exchange for the release of Israeli "conscripts". 

According to an Arab diplomat quoted by The Times of Israel, the initial stage of the deal - which would last six weeks - would involve the release of some women, elderly and wounded hostages. The soldiers and all other male hostages would be released during a second phase, while in the third phase the bodies of hostages who have died in captivity would be returned.  

Hamas has also stressed that, after the initial exchange of hostages and prisoners, a date would be agreed for a permanent ceasefire and the withdrawal of Israeli troops from Gaza, a point repeatedly rejected by Jerusalem, which has vowed to continue the offensive until Hamas is finished and all hostages are released. 

Ahead of a meeting of Israel's war cabinet to examine Hamas's offer, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office dismissed the terrorist organisation's recent demands as "ridiculous demands".  

For their part, the umbrella association for the families of the hostages have called on the government to accept the deal and save the 134 "daughters and sons who were cruelly kidnapped, solely because they were Israelis". "For the first time we can imagine embracing them again, please grant us this right," the hostages' families said in a statement.

Qatar, Egypt and the United States have stepped up diplomatic efforts to reach an agreement between Israel and Hamas that would lead to a weeks-long truce in the fighting in Gaza and the release of the more than 130 hostages, as well as the return of dozens of bodies held in the Palestinian enclave. 

Qatar threatens to expel Hamas if no deal is reached 

Among the mediators, Qatar, which hosts Hamas's political sphere - including its leader Ismail Haniyeh - has become a key player in the negotiations.   

However, despite its good relations with Hamas leaders, Doha has reportedly threatened to expel them from the country if an agreement is not reached, according to The Wall Street Journal, citing unnamed Hamas and Egyptian officials.   

The US media speaks of an "ultimatum" from Doha to the leaders of the terrorist group if a deal is not reached soon. 

El emir de Qatar, el jeque Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani - PHOTO/REUTERS
Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani - PHOTO/REUTERS

In this regard, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has stressed that "pressure on Qatar is starting to work" on behalf of the families of the Israeli hostages.   

As Netanyahu stated, Qatar has changed tactics and is now pressuring Hamas to accept a hostage deal, otherwise they will expel them and withhold their money.  

Hamas warns of possible escalation of violence during Ramadan 

However, Husam Badran, a senior Hamas official in Doha, denied the alleged threats of expulsion by Doha, stressing that negotiations are continuing. Badran underlined Hamas's commitment to ending the conflict and warned of a possible escalation of violence during Ramadan if a truce is not reached.

The start of Ramadan has put Israeli society on alert due to Hamas' threats and calls for Muslims to attack Israelis during the holy month. So far this week there have already been several attacks that have left several injured and one dead.  

In recent days, a Palestinian teenager stabbed two people at a checkpoint near Jerusalem, while a man who moved to Israel from the Gaza Strip recently killed a 51-year-old policeman and wounded several people in southern Israel.  

Separately, Israeli security forces have deployed thousands of officers in Jerusalem's Old City for the first Friday prayers of Ramadan at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site for Muslims. 

"We will do our best to make this Ramadan a peaceful one," an Israeli police spokesman promised during a press conference, although he also acknowledged that "it is no secret that extremists and terrorist organisations like Hamas and Islamic Jihad are trying to inflame the region".