An Israeli military spokesperson on Saturday blamed Hamas for delays in releasing a second wave of Israeli hostages, saying the tactics were part of a “strategy” of “psychological warfare.”
Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) spokesman Doron Szpilman said on Saturday that the long-negotiated 50 Israeli hostages would be withdrawn after Hamas said it would withdraw, claiming Israel was not providing humanitarian aid. He said the ceasefire agreement that promised liberation “has been at a standstill for some time.” We will provide aid to Gaza as promised.
“This is probably part of Hamas’ strategy… knowing that this is an opportunity to inflict psychological distress,” Spielman said in an interview with CNN. “They know our weakness. Our weakness is how much we want people to go home. And they just exploited that.”
Both sides agreed to resume hostage releases hours later, and a total of 13 Israeli and four Thai hostages were freed late Saturday. In return, Israel released 39 Palestinians from prison.
Saturday’s second wave of freed hostages marks the halfway point of an expected four-day hiatus in fighting. According to the agreement, the ceasefire could be extended by one day for every 10 additional hostages released by Hamas.
Spielman said Saturday’s postponement may not be the last and is a targeted move by a terrorist organization.
“They know that they can basically hold the Israeli people hostage by dangling them over our heads in the most cruel and deplorable way,” he said.
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