Hamas threatens to harm captives if Israel initiates attacks on Gaza
The Israeli military has announced the activation of an extraordinary 300,000 reservists and the implementation of a complete blockade on the Gaza Strip. This move suggests a potential ground assault in retaliation to the significant weekend attack carried out by Hamas militants.
Following extensive bombardment by Israeli jets that lasted for several hours, Hamas, the Islamist organization governing Gaza, issued a threat to execute an Israeli captive in the event of civilian residences being targeted by airstrikes.
Hamas spokesperson Abu Ubaida stated that the group had been adhering to Islamic principles by ensuring the safety of Israeli captives.
However, in response to any Israeli airstrikes targeting civilian residences without prior warning, Hamas would initiate the execution of an Israeli civilian captive and broadcast the act, as per Abu Ubaida's statement.
Israeli TV channels reported that the death toll resulting from the Hamas attack had risen to 900. Gaza's Health Ministry, on the other hand, indicated that at least 687 Palestinians had lost their lives, with 3,726 others sustaining injuries due to Israeli airstrikes on the besieged enclave since Saturday.
In line with Hamas, the armed wing of Islamic Jihad, which claimed to have more than 30 Israeli captives, urged Israel to refrain from targeting civilians if they had concern for the fate of Israelis in its custody.
Meanwhile, in Gaza, Israel continued its most intense retaliatory airstrikes to date. Defense Minister Yoav Gallant announced a heightened blockade, extending to the extent of preventing food and fuel from reaching the strip, which is home to 2.3 million people.
As night descended, Israeli airstrikes escalated in intensity, with witnesses reporting hits on several Hamas security headquarters and government ministries. These strikes resulted in the destruction of roads and homes.
Additionally, Israel targeted the headquarters of the private Palestinian Telecommunication Co., potentially affecting landline, internet, and mobile phone services in the region.
Egypt, known for its mediation efforts between Israel and Hamas during previous conflicts, has maintained close contact with both sides, as reported by Egyptian security sources. Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has also expressed readiness for a mediator role.
Qatari mediators have engaged in urgent discussions with Hamas officials, aiming to negotiate the release of Israeli women and children who were taken captive by the militant group and are currently held in Gaza. This negotiation is proposed in exchange for the release of 36 Palestinian women and children from Israeli prisons, as per a Reuters source.
However, an Israeli official has stated that no negotiations are currently in progress.
The ongoing violence poses a threat to U.S.-backed efforts to normalize relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia. Such a security realignment could potentially undermine Palestinian aspirations for self-determination and could constrain Iran, a supporter of Hamas.