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“Two More Freed as Israel Intensifies Gaza Onslaught: Hamas Responds”

Intensified aerial strikes in and around the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip have been met with retaliatory releases of Israeli hostages by the militant organization. On Tuesday, the Islamic State of Palestine group, commonly known as Hamas, released two Israeli citizens it had been holding captive for months in exchange for a reduction in Israeli strikes.

This release comes amid rising tension between Hamas and Israel, having been provoked by the targeting of 18 Hamas officers in a recent Gaza airstrike that left Hamas fighters dead and wounded. In response, Hamas claims to have launched more than 400 rockets and mortars into Israel.

Since the escalation of violence in the region, Hamas has released two Israeli citizens they had been holding hostage. The first was released last week in exchange for an end to Israeli airstrikes in Gaza. The second, released on Tuesday, was granted a full release in return for a reduction in Israeli airstrikes.

The details of the hostages released are largely unknown but it is believed the two hostages were kidnapped by Hamas during their 2014 Gaza assault into Israeli territory. The crisis, which lasted for six weeks, ended with a cease-fire agreement, but it appears no real peace has returned to the region.

Since then, the fragile ceasefire has been met with sporadic rocket fire emanating from Gaza and airstrikes from the Israeli air force. It is not known if the two hostages involved in the latest exchange are related to the 2014 ceasefire agreement but the fact that Hamas is now willing to release hostages in exchange for concessions speaks to the fact that the militant organization aims to keep its militancy alive and achieve its goals.

Hamas has expressed its desire to return to the negotiating table with Israel, as long as their fight for freedom and justice is respected. It is now up to the international community to ensure that this happens, as the already precarious situation in the region could easily spiral out of control.

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