Hamas vows to free two Russian-Israeli hostages as soon as ceasefire is reached

Gianluca Pacchiani is the Arab affairs reporter for The Times of Israel

Screenshot from a Palestinian Islamic Jihad propaganda video showing hostage Sasha Trufanov released on May 30, 2024. (Screenshot)
Screenshot from a Palestinian Islamic Jihad propaganda video showing hostage Sasha Trufanov released on May 30, 2024. (Screenshot)

Hamas announces that as soon as a ceasefire agreement is reached with Israel, the first to be released will be two hostages with Russian citizenship as a gesture to Russia.

Musa Abu Marzouk, deputy politburo chief of the terror group, tells the Russian news agency Novosti that the issue of the two Russian-Israeli hostages still held in Gaza was discussed in a meeting with Moscow’s Special Representative for the Middle East, Mikhail Bogdanov, in the Russian capital.

“We informed him that when Israel accepts the ceasefire/hostage release agreement, [the Russian hostages] will be a priority, in honor of our friendship with the Russian Federation,” he says.

Abu Marzouk further claims that “there are no Russian hostages held by Hamas,” since all of the hostages are Israelis in the eyes of the group, but notes that many of the captives hold other nationalities.

The two Russian-Israeli hostages still in Hamas’s hands are Alexander Lobanov, 32, and Alexander Trufanov, 28, who is detained by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ). PIJ published two videos of Trufanov in May.

Another hostage with Russian citizenship, Andrey Kozlov, was rescued in a daring daylight operation in central Gaza earlier this month together with Noa Argamani, Almog Meir Jan, and Shlomi Ziv.

Hamas has previously released another hostage with Russian citizenship, Roni Krivoi, as a favor to Russian President Vladimir Putin in November, in a separate agreement from the temporary ceasefire and hostage release deal reached between Hamas and Israel around the same time.

In a separate interview with the Sputnik news agency during his Moscow visit, Abu Marzouk insists on having Russia as one of the guarantors of a possible ceasefire with Israel, as a counterbalance to the US which is perceived to be on Israel’s side.

The deputy politburo head also says that during Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s upcoming visit to Moscow, for which a date has not yet been set, the issue of reconciliation between Palestinian factions will be discussed. A unity meeting between Hamas and Fatah was scheduled to take place in China this month, but was postponed indefinitely due to deep divisions between the two sides.

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