Israel conducted new airstrikes on the Gaza Strip on Sunday, following Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s commitment to continue “military pressure” despite facing increasing pressure to engage in negotiations for the release of hostages held by Hamas.
Families of the hostages, who have been held since Hamas’s attack on southern Israel in October, took to the streets of Tel Aviv on Saturday, urging the Israeli government to devise an immediate plan for their release. This came after the Israeli military announced that three of the hostages were “accidentally” killed during an operation within the Gaza Strip.
These hostages were among approximately 250 individuals whom Israeli authorities believe were abducted during the unprecedented attack launched by Hamas. The attack resulted in around 1,140 casualties, mostly civilians, with the majority occurring on the first day, according to Israeli authorities.
Following the attack, Israel pledged to “eliminate” Hamas and recover the hostages, initiating a widespread offensive that resulted in significant destruction in the Gaza Strip. The airstrikes led to the deaths of at least 18,800 people, with approximately 70% being women and children, according to Hamas.
During Saturday’s protest, Noyam Perry, the daughter of hostage Haim Perry, stated, “All we receive are more hostage bodies,” emphasizing that their demand is not a battle but a plea made by those who have lost their fathers. Perry urged the government to consider their plea and propose negotiation plans promptly.
In late November, a seven-day humanitarian truce, mediated by Qatar and Egypt with U.S. involvement, facilitated the release of 80 Israeli hostages in exchange for 240 Palestinians held in Israeli prisons. Additionally, Hamas released several foreign hostages not covered by the initial agreement. However, as per Israeli authorities, 129 individuals remain captive in the Gaza Strip.
On Friday, the Israeli military acknowledged that three hostages were killed “accidentally” in the Shujaiya neighborhood of Gaza City. The army initially believed they posed a “threat,” sparking protests in Tel Aviv. An initial investigation confirmed that the three individuals, in their twenties, were waving a white flag and speaking Hebrew.
Despite the deep sorrow expressed by Netanyahu over the accidental deaths, he reaffirmed on Saturday his commitment to military pressure on Hamas. During a press conference, he stated, “Despite all the deep sadness (regarding the three hostages), I want to make one thing clear: military pressure is necessary to secure the release of hostages and ensure victory over our enemies.”
Israeli airstrikes continued on various areas in the Gaza Strip on Sunday. Early reports from Hamas’s health ministry cited at least 12 casualties from Israeli airstrikes on the Deir al-Balah refugee camp in central Gaza.
The ongoing military actions underscore the complex and volatile situation in the region, with Israel prioritizing its security concerns and the recovery of hostages, while facing international calls for a diplomatic resolution and addressing the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.