Senior Hamas official indicates breakthrough in hostage negotiations may be on the horizon

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

Palestinian Senior Hamas leader Moussa Abu Marzouk, front, attends the funeral of Saleh Arouri, in Beirut, Lebanon, Thursday, January 4, 2024.  (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)
Palestinian Senior Hamas leader Moussa Abu Marzouk, front, attends the funeral of Saleh Arouri, in Beirut, Lebanon, Thursday, January 4, 2024. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

Senior Hamas official Mousa Abu Marzouk says that there may be breakthroughs in hostage negotiations in the near future.

In an interview with the Egyptian Al-Ghad channel, Abu Marzouk says that from the terror group’s standpoint, the main obstacle to a hostage deal is Israel’s refusal to withdraw its ground forces from the Gaza Strip, especially from the north-south Salah al-Din axis and the coastal Rashid street.

He reiterates that Hamas’s conditions for a ceasefire are a cessation of hostilities and the return of displaced people to northern Gaza. He adds that the terror group demands the release of 500 Palestinian prisoners for every Israeli hostage, of whom there are 134 still in captivity, and vows that Hamas “will continue its struggle until victory or martyrdom” and will not lay down its weapons.

Regarding the future of the coastal enclave, Abu Marzouk says that Hamas does not see it as a goal to govern the Strip, but rather thinks that this should fall upon the Palestinian Authority, adding that Hamas members have met with representatives from Fatah and with Muhammad Dahlan, the Gazan exiled leader of the Democratic Reform Bloc within Fatah.

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