Hamas says it will free foreign hostages 'in the next few days'

Palestinians search for survivors in the rubble of a building in the Nuseirat refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip on October 31, 2023, amid relentless Israeli bombardment of the Palestinian enclave. Photo: AFP/Mahmud Hams

Hamas's armed wing said Tuesday it would release in the coming days some of the foreign hostages in its captivity, as it vowed to turn Gaza into a graveyard for Israel's military.

"We have informed intermediaries that we will release a certain number of foreigners in the next few days," Abu Obeida, a spokesman for Ezzedine Al-Qassam Brigades, said in a televised address.

Around 240 hostages are believed to be held by Hamas at the moment in Gaza, after the militant group attacked communities across southern Israel on October 7, triggering a fierce bombing campaign and ground incursion of the territory by the Israeli military.

Five hostages have been released to date, including four after negotiations through a diplomatic backchannel and one following an operation by the Israeli army.

The announcement came as international warnings increased over the spiralling bloodshed and mounting humanitarian crisis in Gaza, on a day in which Israeli troops and Hamas militants engaged in "fierce battles" in the north of the strip.

"Gaza will be a graveyard and a quagmire for the enemy, its soldiers and its political and military leadership," said Obeida.

Israeli soldiers gather near the border with Gaza before entering the Palestinian enclave on October 31, 2023, amid ongoing battles between Israel and the Palestinian Hamas movement. Photo: AFP/ Gil Cohen-Magen

Warplanes kept up a relentless barrage of strikes on Gaza, where the Hamas-run health ministry said that 8,525 people had died so far, including over 3,500 children.

The ministry later said at least 50 people were killed in an Israeli bombardment of a refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip on Tuesday.

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