The Hamas chief said the group was close to a possible ceasefire with Israel that would bring a pause to the country’s relentless airstrikes on Gaza in return for the release of Israelis held hostage in the Palestinian territory.
Palestinian terror group officials are “close to reaching a ceasefire agreement” with the Israeli government as the parties negotiate through Qatari mediators, an adviser to Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said Reuters in a statement.
The adviser provided few details about the reported agreement but said Hamas had sent its response to Qatari mediators.
The two sides in the deadly conflict are reportedly negotiating the duration of the ceasefire, the logistics of delivering urgently needed aid to Gaza and the exchange of Israeli hostages kidnapped and held by Hamas for Palestinian prisoners in Israel, a Hamas official told Al Jazeera TV.
Women and children would be released by both sides as part of the hostage-prisoner exchange, official Issat el Reshiq told the outlet.
It is unclear how many of the 240 Israelis held in Gaza since they were abducted by Hamas militants on October 7 will be returned home through the brokering of the deal.
There has been constant talk for days about a possible deal to release hostages, but no concrete agreement has yet been reached. Qatar, as a third-party facilitator, is expected to announce the details of any agreed plans.
Qatar Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman al-Thani said on Sunday the remaining exchange points were “very low”.
Last week, Qatari negotiators hoped that Israel and Hamas would exchange 50 hostages in return for a three-day ceasefire to allow emergency aid to reach Gaza – where civilians reportedly have no electricity, clean water or food.
The United Nations has warned that the possibility of a mass famine is increasing as the delivery of food and other essential supplies becomes more difficult or even impossible due to a communications blackout in the area.
The conflict has killed thousands of people – many of them innocent civilians. Hamas’ attack on Israel on October 7 left 1,200 Israelis dead. According to the Hamas-run Health Ministry, the Jewish nation’s retaliatory attacks and ground missions in Gaza have killed at least 13,300 Palestinians – including at least 5,600 children and 3,550 women.
U.S. officials said Monday they were convinced a deal was near, but added they had previously thought the same thing only to be proven wrong.
“Sensitive negotiations like this can break down at the last minute,” White House deputy national security adviser Jon Finer said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed.”
With post wires