Hamas is ready to release civilian hostages being held captive in Gaza, an Iranian politician claimed yesterday.Iran's foreign minister Hossein Amir-A
Hamas is ready to release civilian hostages being held captive in Gaza, an Iranian politician claimed yesterday.
Iran‘s foreign minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said Hamas had told its backers in Tehran that it was ready to hand over the hostages seized in Israel.
Gunmen seized 224 hostages and have released just four so far, with Hamas leaders claiming ‘almost fifty’ have been killed in Israeli airstrikes on Gaza.
Mediators in Qatar have led talks over their release and a negotiator said there had been progress in recent days.
Dr Mohammed Al Khulaifi, the Qatari foreign minister, said negotiators were working towards the release of all the civilian hostages, although he declined to say if any release was imminent.
Iran’s foreign minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said Hamas had told them it was ready to hand over hostages captured in Israel
Qatar’s foreign ministry has previously confirmed that talks included negotiations over a possible prisoner swap.
Mr Amir-Abdollahian told a UN general assembly that Hamas had spoken with Iran about a possible release.
He said: ‘The Islamic Republic of Iran stands ready to play its part in this very important humanitarian endeavour, along with Qatar and Turkey.
‘Naturally, the release of the 6,000 Palestinian prisoners is another necessity and responsibility of the global community.’
Earlier, Hamas leader Saleh al-Arouri told Hezbollah’s television channel al-Manar that Israeli hostages would be swapped for Hamas fighters.
His comments followed a 2011 agreement between Israel and Hamas to release a captured Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, in exchange for more than 1,000 Palestinian and Arab-Israeli prisoners.
Russian news agencies also reported that a delegation from Hamas had arrived in Moscow yesterday for talks over releasing hostages including several Russian citizens
Meanwhile Russian news agencies reported that a delegation from Hamas arrived in Moscow yesterday for talks over the release of the hostages, including several Russian citizens. Senior Hamas official Abu Marzouk was reported to be among those attending.
The four hostages released so far were an American mother and her daughter and two elderly Israeli women.
One of the women, 85-year-old Yocheved Lifshitz, described how she was dragged through a ‘spider web of tunnels’.
The fate of the hostages has proved a difficult challenge for Israeli military chiefs as they plan airstrikes and a possible ground assault on Gaza. Hamas said airstrikes so far had killed ‘almost fifty’ hostages, although it did not give further information and it was not possible to verify its claim.