Hamas claims dozens of child hostages being held by unknown ‘gangs’ in Gaza as Israel under pressure to extend ceasefire

Hamas claims dozens of child hostages being held by unknown ‘gangs’ in Gaza as Israel under pressure to extend ceasefire

HAMAS has claimed it does not know where dozens of child hostages are being held in Gaza – as Israel holds out hope more will be released in the coming days.

It came as Joe Biden heaped pressure on Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu to extend the fragile ceasefire due to end on Monday night.

Israeli Prime Minister says he is open to extending the ceasefire by one day for every 10 additional hostages released by HamasRex

ReutersHamas terrorists handed over nine-year-old Emily Hand, along with 12 other Israeli women and children, on Saturday[/caption]

Tal Edan via AP:Associated PressAbigail Edan, three, was released on Sunday after both her parents were reportedly killed by Hamas on October 7[/caption]

An additional 17 hostages were released by Hamas on Sunday

Israel said it is open to extending the four-day truce but demanded Hamas agrees to free more of the 200 remaining hostages it snatched last month.

It has offered an extra day’s ceasefire for every ten hostages returned.

After that, its forces will return to war at “full power”, Netanyahu insisted.

Any deal will depend on whether Hamas is able to locate around 40 women and children snatched on October 7, Qatar‘s prime minister said last night.

But the terrorists claimed they do not know the whereabouts of Israeli hostages because they are being held by unknown “gangs” in Gaza.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani who is leading talks told the Financial Times: “If they [Hamas] get additional women and children, there will be an extension.

“We don’t yet have any clear information how many they can find because … one of the purposes [of the pause in fighting] is they [Hamas] will have time to search for the rest of the missing people.”

The claim was eyed with suspicion amid fears Hamas chiefs will use the ceasefire to regroup for more bloodshed.

The terror group also claimed again it did not kidnap any civilians – even though its members filmed themselves snatching defenceless hostages and dragging them back to Gaza during the massacre.

About 240 hostages, including Israeli soldiers and sick and elderly civilians, are understood to have taken hostage by the terror group and held in underground tunnels.

Last week Qatar brokered a deal to free 50 Israeli women and children in exchange for 150 Palestinians in Israeli prisons over the course of a four-day ceasefire.

The Qatari prime minister said last night Israel was willing to extend the truce if if “there’s proof” Hamas has more women and children to release, “but nothing beyond that”.

He claimed Hamas agreed to release 50 women and children as part of the hostage deal as that was the number it could locate.

Sheikh Mohammed said another militant faction in Gaza called Palestinian Islamic Jihad was coordinating with Hamas on the hostage release.

And he warned the conflict might spread and destabilise “the entire region” if an extended ceasefire is not secured.

Joe Biden said he was hopeful the truce will be extended as he hailed the release of 17 more hostages on Sunday – including four-year-old Israeli-American Abigail Edan, whose parents were murdered on October 7.

He told reporters his goal was “to keep this pause going beyond tomorrow, so that we can continue to see more hostages come out and surge more humanitarian relief to those in need in Gaza”.

Biden also spoke to Netanyahu, who replied he was open to extending the ceasefire by one day for every ten additional hostages released by Hamas.

He reportedly added: “At the end of the deal, we are returning full power to carry out our aims: destroy Hamas, ensure that Gaza won’t return to what it was and of course to free all of our hostages.”

As part of the current truce deal, Israel has agreed to deliver increased aid into Gaza.

The Israel Defence Forces said on Sunday night that 200 trucks had entered the Strip earlier in the day, loaded with 3,600 tons of tents, blankets, and mattresses, among other humanitarian supplies.

It added: “Over 2,000 trucks have entered Gaza since the start of the war, transferring water, food and medical equipment”.

Since the truce deal took effect on Friday, Hamas has released 39 Israeli women and children and 18 foreign nationals, while Israel has freed 117 Palestinian women and children from its prisons.

According to Palestinian officials, Israeli strikes launched following Hamas’ initial attacks on October 7 have killed more than 13,300 people in Gaza.

Israel has previously disputed the death toll figures, and while Benjamin Netanyahu has admitted Israel has “not been successful” in reducing civilian casualties, he also stressed the deaths must be blamed on Hamas, not Israel.

APAImages / PolarisPalestinians return to their daily lives on Friday as the four-day humanitarian pause began[/caption]

WHITE HOUSE/UNPIXSUS President Joe Biden called for the truce to be extended on Sunday night[/caption]

ReutersAviva Adrienne Siegel, 62, was among 17 hostages released by Hamas on Sunday night[/caption]

AFPIsraeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, meets soldiers at an undisclosed location in the Gaza Strip on Saturday[/caption]

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