GAZA CITY (Agencies): The Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, claimed that they destroyed 136 Israeli military vehicles that attempted to invade the Gaza Strip. Abu Ubaida, the spokesperson for the group, said in a video speech on Wednesday that Israel had avoided full engagement with the resistance and that the Al-Qassam Brigades would continue to fight on all fronts.
He also said that Israel was obstructing the efforts to release the detainees held by Hamas and that the only way to free them was through a comprehensive deal.
Meanwhile, the Israeli army confirmed the death of another soldier in the Gaza battles, bringing the total number of fatalities to 34 since the start of the ground operation. Four more soldiers were severely wounded in the clashes.
The Palestinian factions launched several rocket attacks on the Israeli settlements around Gaza, in response to the Israeli aggression that has been going on for the 33rd day.
On the other hand, UN Secretary-General António Guterres criticized Israel for the high number of civilian casualties and the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. He said that the Israeli military operations showed a clear error and that the sympathy for Israel was greatly diminished.
Guterres also noted that the number of journalists killed in Gaza was unprecedented and that the laws of war must be respected. He added that he understood the Israeli concern for security, but that the issue of governance in Gaza after the operation belonged to the Palestinian people.
The UN chief’s remarks angered Israel, which demanded his resignation.
In addition, the Belgian Deputy Prime Minister Petra De Sutter called for imposing sanctions on Israel due to its ongoing attacks on Gaza. She said that Israel dropping bombs like rain on Gaza was an inhumane act and that Israel did not care about the international calls for a ceasefire.
US President Joe Biden also said that he asked Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for a temporary halt to the fighting in Gaza during a phone call on Monday. He said that they discussed the possibility of a humanitarian pause and the release of the hostages.
According to an informed source quoted by Agence France-Presse, Qatar is leading mediation efforts to secure the release of hostages held by Hamas in exchange for a temporary ceasefire in Gaza.
The source, who is familiar with the talks, said that Qatar is working in coordination with the United States to free 10 to 15 hostages who were captured by Hamas during its attack on Israel a month ago. In return, Israel would agree to stop the fighting in Gaza for one or two days.
Hamas, through its military wing, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, has already released some of its prisoners for humanitarian reasons, with the help of Qatari mediation.