Ismail Haniyeh
Ismail HaniyehReuters

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh on Thursday said that the group is still seeking a hostage release deal with Israel despite the elimination of three of his sons in an air strike in Gaza, while denying his sons were Hamas terrorists.

Speaking in Qatar while receiving condolences, Haniyeh said that "the interests of the Palestinian people are placed above everything" when asked if the strike would affect the talks on a truce and hostage release.

"We are seeking to reach a deal but the occupation is still procrastinating and evading a response to the demands," he told Reuters.

The IDF confirmed on Wednesday that three Hamas operatives killed in a strike in Gaza are the sons of Haniyeh, who serves as chairman of Hamas' political bureau. One of Haniyeh’s three sons was involved in holding Israeli hostages.

Haniyeh, however, told Reuters that his sons were not active Hamas fighters.

"These claims are lies to justify this crime and massacre," he said, adding, "They were going on Eid day visiting relatives.”

Haniyeh’s comments on a hostage release deal come a week after he made clear that Hamas was sticking to its conditions for a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, including an Israeli military withdrawal.

"We are committed to our demands: the permanent ceasefire, comprehensive and complete withdrawal of the enemy out of the Gaza Strip, the return of all displaced people to their homes, allowing all aid needed for our people in Gaza, rebuilding the Strip, lifting the blockade and achieving an honorable prisoner exchange deal," he said.

The indirect negotiations between Israel and Hamas on a hostage release deal appeared to have hit a snag.

Israel is demanding a list of 40 hostages to be released by Hamas, but Hamas is claiming that it knows the location of less than 40 hostages who are alive.