| 8 December 2023, Friday |

Release of hostages requires ceasefire, Hamas official says

After Hamas militants went on a violent rampage into southern Israel over three weeks ago, Israel started a punishing air war in the enclave. A Hamas official linked the ceasefire to the release of captives held in Gaza.

Although the U.S. and Arab nations have encouraged Israel to postpone the operation, which would increase the number of civilian casualties in the heavily populated coastal strip and possibly spark a wider confrontation, Israel claims it is preparing a land invasion.

Two U.S. fighter jets struck weapons and ammunition facilities in Syria on Friday in retaliation for attacks on U.S. forces by Iranian-backed militias since the Gaza conflict erupted.

An opinion poll published on Friday suggested almost half of Israelis now wanted to hold off on a ground invasion out of fears for at least 224 hostages reported to be held there.

The Russian newspaper Kommersant quoted a member of a Hamas delegation visiting Moscow as saying time was needed to locate all those who had been taken from Israel by various Palestinian factions in the Hamas attack on Oct. 7 that sparked the crisis.

  • Reuters