Ismail Haniyeh warns that hostages being held in Gaza face same risk of ‘death and destruction’ from the Israeli assault on the territory as Palestinian residents
Hamas’s political leader has accused Israel of carrying out “massacres” in the besieged Gaza Strip to conceal its own “defeats” and warned that the hundreds of Israeli and foreign hostages being held captive in Gaza faced the same risk of “death and destruction” from the Israeli assault on the territory as Palestinian residents.
Israel is “committing barbaric massacres against unarmed civilians”, Ismail Haniyeh said in an address broadcast on Wednesday
“Its villainy will not save them from resounding defeat,” he promised.
Israel launched an assault on Gaza on October 7 after Hamas carried out a devastating attack on southern Israel, killing at least 1,400 people, mostly civilians, according to Israeli officials.
At least 8,796 people have been killed in the continuing Israeli bombardment of Gaza, including 3,648 children, according to Palestinian authorities.
Haniyeh said Hamas had warned Israel’s “fascist government” about its “contentious policies” before its attack, pointing to the expansion of settlements in the West Bank and attacks on Islamic holy sites, such as the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
The Hamas leader said regional unrest would continue until “Palestinians obtain their “legitimate rights to freedom, independence and return”.
Refugee camp hit
The remarks came after Israeli forces attacked the Jabalia refugee camp in north Gaza for the second straight day, killing dozens, according to Palestinian officials.
More than 50 people were killed in an Israeli air raid on the densely packed neighbourhood the previous day, Palestinian authorities said.
Hamas said seven Israeli hostages, three of whom held foreign passports, were killed in the attack.
Hamas’s military wing has previously said that “almost 50” hostages had been killed in previous Israeli air raids on the besieged territory.
Israel’s military confirmed it attacked the Jabalia refugee camp, Gaza’s largest, saying the air raid on Tuesday had killed senior Hamas member Ibrahim Biari, along with many other “terrorists.” Biari was responsible for helping to orchestrate the October 7 attack, Israel said.
UNICEF warning about child deaths
The UN’s children’s fund has said that the toll of the Israeli assault was having a devastating impact on children in Gaza.
“More than 420 children are being killed or injured in Gaza each day — a number which should shake each of us to our core,” said UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell.
Hamas leader Haniyeh also said the bloodshed must stop and called on the world to continue rallying in defence of the Palestinian cause to pressure policymakers.
He accused Israel and its ally the United States of blocking mediation efforts.
On Friday, the US and Israel were among only 14 out of 193 UN member countries to vote “no” on the general assembly resolution calling for an immediate humanitarian truce. However, 120 countries voted “yes” to the resolution, while 45 abstained.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly dismissed calls for a ceasefire, saying it would be tantamount to “surrendering” to Hamas. The main Palestinian armed groups fighting in Gaza, including Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, have not called for a ceasefire.