Hamas threatens Gaza hostages, demands prisoner exchange

It is thought up to five UK citizens are among 138 people being held underground.

Hamas spokesman Abu Obeida said: “Neither the fascist enemy and its arrogant leadership nor the supporters behind them can take their prisoners alive without exchanging, negotiating and agreeing to the terms of the resistance.”

The terror group has also threatened to conduct “additional terror attacks” against Israeli civilians, said US think-tank The Institute for the Study of War.

Defence Secretary Grant Shapps told The Daily Express: “The fact Hamas terrorists are willing to treat these innocent people as pawns to blackmail Israel tells you everything you need to know about this despicable group. This is an absolutely abhorrent threat all reasonable people will condemn.”

“As I have said, I will move heaven and earth to help get the hostages released.”

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu claimed dozens of Hamas militants had surrendered and he described the situation as “the beginning of the end” for the group.

He said victory will take time, but added it is “the beginning of the end for Hamas”. Mr Netanyahu added: “I say to the Hamas terrorists: it is over. Don’t die for [Hamas chief Yahya] Sinwar. Surrender now.”

A week-long truce ended last week and since then Israel has stepped up street ­fighting in a bid to wipe out Hamas.

Tel Aviv has told civilians to flee the centre of the city of Khan Yunis amid c­onstant shelling and fierce battles.

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