Hamas official warns terror group could harden stance at hostage negotiations due to ‘intensifying’ IDF operations

A senior Hamas official claims Israel is “intensifying” its military operations in the Gaza Strip in an attempt to pressure the terror group into a deal, and warns that it will have the opposite effect.

In recent days, the IDF has issued evacuation warnings in Gaza City, and earlier today said it had wrapped up a two-week raid in the eastern Shejaiya neighborhood. At the same time, the IDF has been continuing to operate in southern Gaza’s Rafah, and elsewhere across northern Gaza and the center of the Strip.

The IDF is also investigating reports that dozens of Palestinian civilians were killed and wounded in a strike in Khan Younis earlier this week. The IDF said a fighter jet launched a “precision munition” during a strike against a Hamas terrorist who had participated in the October 7 massacre.

Speaking to AFP about what he says are increased military operations, Hamas official Hossam Badran says that Israel “is trying to pressure negotiations by intensifying bombing operations, displacement and committing massacres”.

As long-stalled diplomatic efforts have gathered pace, aiming for a hostage release deal and Gaza truce after more than nine months of devastating war, Badran claims Israel was trying to force Hamas’s hands.

The Israeli government is “hoping that the resistance will relinquish its legitimate demands,” which include a complete ceasefire and full withdrawal of Israeli troops from Gaza, he says, but adds that “the continuation of massacres compels us to adhere to our demands,” he said.

On Sunday, a Hamas official told AFP on condition of anonymity that the group was ready to discuss a hostage release deal with Israel even without a “complete” ceasefire.

But now, Badran says, “we cannot determine to what extent the negotiations can proceed despite the flexibility we have shown.”

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