Israel’s Defense Minister today accused Hamas for “psychological manipulation” of Israeli citizens, taking advantage of the hostages it is holding and which it says it is ready to release if all Palestinian prisoners are released.

“The stories that Hamas tells are part of their psychological manipulation, and that puts a lot of pressure on the entire nation. Hamas cynically uses our loved ones, they understand the pain and pressure it causes,” said Joab Gallad in the meeting he had with the relatives of the hostages.

According to Israeli authorities, approximately 230 people were kidnapped by Hamas on October 7 and are being held in the Gaza Strip. The head of the Palestinian organization in Gaza, Mr Yahya Sinuar, said on Saturday he was “ready” to proceed with the exchange of hostages with Palestinian prisoners in Israel. An organization that defends the rights of these prisoners estimates that 5,200 Palestinians are currently in Israeli prisons, and 559 of them are serving life sentences.

“Our actions on the ground are part of our effort to return the hostages. If Hamas does not feel the military pressure, nothing will happen. He seeks the collapse of Israeli society and uses the hostages in a brutal way,” Gallad added.