Senior Hamas members in Gaza reportedly urge leaders to strike hostage deal

Internal communications reveal divisions among terror group officials in Gaza


Recent internal communications between Hamas figures in Gaza and leadership in Qatar indicate that the terrorist organisation has been weakened by heavy losses on the battlefield and destruction to the region amid the ongoing conflict in the Palestinian territory between Israel and Hamas. (Photo by BASHAR TALEB/AFP via Getty Images)

Several senior Hamas figures in Gaza have begun pressuring the terror group’s exiled political leadership to accept Israel’s latest ceasefire and hostage deal proposal, according to a report by The Associated Press.

The internal communications, signed by senior Hamas figures in Gaza and shared by a Middle East official on condition of anonymity, indicated that the terrorist organisation has been weakened by heavy losses on the battlefield and destruction to the region. The messages urged Hamas’ leadership in Qatar, where chief political leader Ismail Haniyeh is based, to accept the ceasefire proposal championed by US President Joe Biden.

According to JNS, the intelligence official showed AP a transcript of two internal communications from May and June but declined to share further details about how the information was obtained.

The messages suggested that Hamas’ leader in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, who has been hiding since the war began and is believed to be sheltering in a tunnel underground, is either unaware of the toll the war has taken on Hamas fighters or is not fully communicating the group’s losses to negotiators outside of the territory.

It is not known whether Haniyeh or any Hamas officials in Qatar responded to the communications.

The internal messages point to divisions within the terrorist group, which US officials reportedly suggested could have been a factor in Hamas’ softening its demands for a ceasefire deal, as Hamas over the weekend appeared to drop its longstanding demand that Israel vows to end the war in Gaza as part of any ceasefire deal. A major obstacle to negotiations thus far has been Hamas’ distrust over whether Israel would resume fighting after the dozens of Israeli captives still held by the group were released.

Hamas spokesperson Jihad Taha dismissed any suggestions of divisions within the group:

“The movement’s position is unified and is crystallized through the organizational framework of the leadership,” he said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu argued on Sunday that military pressure — including the country’s ongoing two-month offensive in the city of Rafah — “is what has led Hamas to enter negotiations.”

Following the one-week ceasefire deal in November, during which Hamas released 105 civilian hostages in exchange for a pause in fighting and the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners, efforts to reach a second agreement have repeatedly failed.

After months of stalled negotiations, Egypt and Qatar have resumed talks with the United States to broker a hostage deal to end the ongoing war and are scheduled to continue in the coming days.

Hamas and Egyptian officials said a phased deal would begin with a six-week ceasefire during which elderly, sick and female hostages would be released by Hamas in exchange for hundreds of Palestinian prisoners.

Details of a more long-term deal, including an end to the war, would only begin during this phase, they said.

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