Hamas on status of remaining Palestinian and Israeli hostages

The following statement was made by the Deputy Head of the Political Bureau of Hamas, Saleh Al-Arouri, on Dec. 2, 2023. 

Currently, there are no negotiations, and the official and final stance of Hamas and the resistance is that there will be no exchange [of hostages] until the complete and final cessation of the Zionist terrorist aggression.

Hamas flags at rally for freed Palestinian prisoners in the occupied West Bank, Nov. 27, 2023.

From the beginning, Hamas declared that it is ready to release foreign prisoners without any exchange, and that children and women prisoners will not be targeted, and will be released.

The remaining prisoners with us are soldiers and former soldiers, and there are no negotiations regarding their matter until the end of the aggression.

We have said from the beginning that we are ready to exchange the bodies of our martyrs held by the occupation, but we need time to retrieve the bodies of the Zionist prisoners killed by the occupation in its raids on our people in Gaza.

The elderly men, all of whom served in the army, some of whom are still on the reserve list, have different criteria for us than what was previously mentioned.

The Zionist terrorist occupation refused to complete the deal to release the former soldiers with new criteria, thinking that by resuming targeting children and women, we would capitulate. However, our official position is that the exchange deal will be discussed after the end of the war.

The occupation is delusional if it thinks it can impose its dominance on us. Its first round in the war was a complete failure.

We are absolutely confident that the occupation will fail to control the Gaza Strip.

The forces that the Zionist army mobilized to attack Gaza, which are a third of its ground forces and more than a third of its air force, are sufficient to defeat entire countries. Yet, it decided to attack only a third of the area of the Gaza Strip in the north, and for 50 days it did not succeed in taking control, and it will never succeed.

The countries supporting the Zionist occupation have become convinced that the goals announced by the Zionist government to eliminate Hamas, forcibly retrieve the prisoners, and control Gaza, are unachievable.

The Zionist enemy needs to go through this round so that its people and supporters are assured that it will fail to liberate the prisoners, except through an exchange operation as the resistance wants.

We have said from day one that the price for releasing the Zionist prisoners is the complete liberation of our prisoners after the cease-fire.

Breaking the resistance in Gaza and controlling the Gaza Strip are just illusions. What the occupation is doing is waging a war of revenge against the innocent, hospitals, mosques, churches and schools.

The U.S. position is not independent of the Zionist stance but rather precedes it in covering, justifying and executing these crimes against the Palestinian people.

The U.S. is morally bankrupt regarding the conflict in Palestine and has become more fascist and Nazi-like than the occupation itself.

Two days before the end of the cease\-fire, the “Israeli” War Minister Gallant himself admitted to signing the decision to resume military operations, so it wasn’t Hamas that broke the ceasefire.

Our people will fight and resist and will not surrender until we force the enemy to recognize our people’s historical and political rights.

This enemy will experience this round to achieve goals it failed to in the last round and will fail this time as well.

Some prisoner exchange rounds took place in central Gaza City, confirming the failure of the first round of the war.

We deeply feel the pain of our people’s suffering, our children, women, and the bloodshed in the West Bank and Gaza, but this sacrifice is necessary to liberate our people, our sanctities, and our prisoners in jails who are now receiving the worst treatment.

The “Israeli” Security Minister Ben-Gvir personally goes to prisons to witness the torture of prisoners, like a Nazi leader, while the world sees how Al-Qassam fighters humanely treat prisoners in Gaza.

The resistance is ready for all scenarios, whether an air or ground war, or entering every street and alley.

There is no fear for the resistance in Gaza, but this does not exempt our people and [Arab and Islamic] nation from supporting our people and those being slaughtered.

The question is not what happens after Hamas, but “how can this army extricate itself from the quagmire it has fallen into.”

The displacement idea is still on the mind of the Zionist project, initially planned for the West Bank, but opening the battle from Gaza shifted the battle there.

The displacement project failed, and the steadfastness of our people and their willingness to die in their land and homes rather than leave it, along with strong Arab support, thwarted this project.

The West Bank was leading the resistance scene, witnessing significant escalation and high tension before Oct. 7.  Then, after this date, the occupation committed all the crimes it dreamt of, with field executions becoming the norm.

Our people have always quickly resumed their resistance, as seen in the Al-Quds operation, and we are confident that the West Bank will throw its weight into this battle.

This statement was slightly edited and can be read in its entirety at Resistance News Network at t.me/PalestineResist/11801.

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