The US has resumed its unarmed reconnaissance drone flights over the besieged Gaza Strip after they were suspended during a since lapsed truce between Israel and Hamas, the Pentagon confirmed Thursday.
"In support of hostage recovery efforts, the U.S. has resumed unarmed UAV flights over Gaza, and we continue to provide advice and assistance to support our Israeli partner as they work on their hostage recovery efforts," Pentagon spokesperson Lisa Lawrence said in a statement.
The US publicly confirmed it was conducting drone flights above Gaza on Nov. 3, saying then that they were being operated to assist efforts to free the more than 240 hostages taken captive Oct. 7 when Hamas conducted a cross-border attack on Israel.
During the seven-day truce, which expired Dec. 1, Hamas and Israel exchanged detainees with three Palestinians held in Israeli prisons released for every hostage set free by Hamas. In all, 138 hostages are believed to still remain in the custody of Hamas or other Palestinian armed groups.
The families of Israeli hostages in Gaza threatened Monday to escalate their efforts to pressure the Israeli government to resume indirect negotiations with Hamas. Families are slated to begin nonstop protests if hostage negotiations are not resumed, Israeli daily Haaretz reported.
A Wednesday cabinet meeting that included representatives from the hostages' families has been described in media reports as chaotic and extremely tense.