Human Rights Watch: Hamas Must Free Hostages. Israel Must Allow Aid Into Gaza

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(Jerusalem) – Israeli authorities and Hamas have reportedly agreed to a multiple-day ceasefire and the release of dozens of civilians held hostage in Gaza in exchange for the release of scores of Palestinian prisoners.

The following can be attributed to Omar Shakir, Israel and Palestine director at Human Rights Watch.

“Taking hostages is a war crime and Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups need to release all of them, immediately. But blocking the delivery of life-saving aid and fuel until the release of hostages is a war crime that has put the lives of 2.2 million people at risk. Human beings are not bargaining chips. Ceasefire or not, unlawful attacks should cease.”

About 1,200 Israelis and more than 11,000 Palestinians, many of them civilians, have been killed since October 7, according to local officials. Palestinian armed groups have been holding more than 230 people as hostages.

As of November 1, Israeli authorities, according to the Israeli human rights group HaMoked, held 6,704 Palestinians in detention, including 2,070 in administrative detention without trial or charge based on secret information. Israeli authorities also held at the time an additional 105 people as “unlawful combatant” detainees and thousands of Gaza laborers in incommunicado detention, many of whom have been subsequently released.

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