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Hamas ‘does not know’ whether hostages in Gaza are alive or dead

March 5, 2024 at 8:45 am

Basem Naim (L), a Hamas leader who is a former Gaza health minister, speak during a press conference in Cape Town on November 29 2023 [RODGER BOSCH/AFP via Getty Images]

A member of Hamas’s political leadership has said that the movement “does not know” if the hostages held in Gaza are alive or dead.

“We do not know exactly who is alive and who is dead, whether they were killed by bombing or by famine,” Bassem Naim told AFP from Cairo. “There are captives held by multiple groups and in multiple places.”

The issue of the captives is at the heart of negotiations currently taking place in Cairo that aim to reach a ceasefire in Gaza. The mediating countries — Egypt, Qatar and the US — are seeking to reach an agreement before the month of Ramadan, which starts next week, depending on the sighting of the new moon.

Israeli media outlets reported that Benjamin Netanyahu’s government insists that Hamas must submit a list of the names of the captives, of whom there are believed to be around 130 still being held. Reports say that Israel failed to send a delegation to Cairo, unlike Hamas, because the movement did not submit this list.

Hamas, meanwhile, insists on a complete ceasefire in Gaza and the withdrawal of Israeli forces before any agreement on the release of captives is reached. “The issue related to the details of the captives was not mentioned in any papers or proposals circulated during the negotiation process,” explained Naim. He stressed the need for a “ceasefire” in order for the movement to meet the demand regarding the names, number and status of the captives.

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