The ongoing war between Israel and Hamas resumed on Friday after a weeklong pause in conflict.

Israel and Hamas had agreed to a truce deal last Tuesday that saw the release of dozens of hostages in Gaza in exchange for a temporary cease in conflict. Negotiators involved in the deal had been scrambling to extend the truce, but Hamas “violated” the existing agreement and war resumed between the two in the early hours of Friday, according to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and multiple sources.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) resumed airstrike launches inside the Gaza Strip on Friday and is expected to shift its ground offensive to southern Gaza, where it says most of Hamas’ top leaders are hiding, the Wall Street Journal reported. The IDF published a map on Friday outlining the evacuation of Gaza civilians out of conflict-dense areas.

The U.S. government was hoping that Israel and Hamas could renew the truce, though it would depend on whether Hamas would release additional hostages, according to an American official who spoke to the WSJ. The extension fell through in part because Hamas did not release four women hostages as part of the agreement, and Hamas claims it could not find them because they were located with other militia groups in Gaza.

“[Hamas] has not met its obligation to release all of the women hostages today and has launched rockets at Israeli citizens,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said in a statement Friday.

Part of the discussions focused on the remaining American hostages in Gaza, which Hamas has been hesitant to release because of their strategic utility, according to the WSJ. Former government officials previously told the Daily Caller News Foundation that Hamas is retaining the American hostages as leverage so that the Biden administration will push for continued pauses in conflict.

“Hamas is getting guidance from the Iranian regime on its hostage strategy. They both understand that American hostages are particularly valuable,” former Special Advisor for the State Department Gabriel Noronha told the DCNF. “Each additional American hostage they offer to release is also more leverage they can put on the Biden Administration to pressure Israel to accept these agreements (referring to the continuation of ceasefires).”

The Biden administration has been vocal that it would like to see ongoing pauses in the conflict between Israel and Hamas. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told IDF Chief Herzi Halevi and Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant on Thursday that Israel does not have “the credit” to keep its counteroffensive going for months more.

The White House and IDF did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Jake Smith on December 1, 2023

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