The Palestinian group Hamas announced that one of the group’s highest-ranking commanders, Ahmed al-Gandour, was killed in the war with Israel, the Al Monitor reported.
Hamas did not say when or where al-Gandour was killed. If the information is correct, al-Gandour would be the highest-ranking member of Hamas killed in the war between Israel and the organization, which the European Union and the United States have designated as a terrorist organization.
Al-Ghandour was the main commander of Hamas in northern Gaza, according to Radio Free Europe.
The AP reported that al-Gandour has survived at least three Israeli assassination attempts since 2002, citing the Counter Extremism Project, a Washington-based advocacy group.
The announcement came only hours after Israel and Hamas completed the second phase of the deal that saw 13 Israeli citizens and four Thai nationals released from Gaza in exchange for the release of 39 Palestinian prisoners. The agreement on a four-day truce — brokered by Qatari and Egyptian mediators — involves the release of 50 hostages in Gaza in exchange for the release of 150 Palestinian prisoners. Those set to be released are primarily women and minors.
The second part of the swap initially faced an hourslong delay after Hamas accused Israel of not abiding by the terms of the agreement, in a bitter blow to relatives that underscored the fragility of the truce. The dispute involved the entry of aid trucks into northern Gaza, which has faced the brunt of destruction in the war.
On Saturday, Hamas’ representative in Lebanon Osama Hamdan said the delay was the result of truce violations by Israel “linked to aid [entering Gaza], in addition to shootings and the rising death toll … Some of [these violations] happened yesterday, and [were] repeated today,” Reuters reported.
An Israeli military spokesman claimed that they were fully abiding by the terms of the deal.
Yet the Qatari Foreign Ministry said later on Saturday that hurdles facing the hostage deal have been “overcome through Qatari-Egyptian communications.”
“We managed to overcome all obstacles through Qatari and Egyptian contacts,” the ministry spokesperson said, according to Egyptian media outlets.
The United Nations announced Saturday night that 248 trucks carrying humanitarian aid had reached the Gaza Strip since the truce started, including 61 to the northern part of the enclave.
The first group of 13 Israeli hostages arrived in Israel on Friday evening, the Israel Defense Forces confirmed. The hostages, who have been held captive by Hamas for more than 49 days, met with special forces to complete medical assessments before being transported to Israeli hospitals, where they were reunited with their families.