Hamas’ military officials have claimed that Israeli strikes on Gaza have led to the deaths of two hostages and injured an additional eight.
Posting on Telegram, the Hamas-linked account said: “The Al-Qassam Brigades confirm that the continuous Zionist bombing of the Gaza Strip during the last 96 hours led to the death of 2 prisoners and seriously injured 8 others, and that their conditions are becoming more dangerous in light of the inability to provide them with appropriate treatment.
“The enemy bears full responsibility for the lives of those injured in light of the continued bombing.”
Israel has not commented on the claims.
This comes as Israel prepares a new offensive in the city of Rafah, Southern Gaza.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ordered the Palestinians in Rafah to evacuate, sayimg his forces will enter the area to take our remaining Hamas fighters.
He said in a statement: “It is impossible to achieve the war objective of eliminating Hamas and leaving four Hamas battalions in Rafah.
“On the other hand, it is clear that a massive operation in Rafah requires the evacuation of the civilian population from the combat zones.
“That is why the prime minister directed the IDF and the defense establishment to bring to the cabinet a dual plan for both the evacuation of the population and the disbanding of the battalions.”
The secretary-general of the Norwegian Refugee Council has warned that it will be a “bloodbath” if the IDF moves in.
A senior Hamas official has also warned that “any attack in Rafah will lead to the explosion of negotiations for a prisoner exchange.
“Netanyahu is trying to avoid the price of the prisoner exchange by continuing the mass extermination and humanitarian catastrophe in Rafah. What Netanyahu and the Israeli army failed to do in four months, he won’t be able to achieve it even if the war drags on.”
Hamas’ recent proposal for a three-phase ceasefire plan was rejected by Israel.
The plan would have seen a 45-day pause in the fighting during which female hostages, men under 19, the elderly and the sick would be handed back in exchange for Palestinian women and children being released from Israeli prisons.
Remaining Palestinian prisoners and Israeli hostages would be swapped while the IDF would have withdrawn from Gaza.
But Netanyahu turned down the proposal, saying that “total victory” can be achieved within months.
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