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21 Nov, 2023 15:51

Hamas-Israel hostage deal ‘close’ to approval – media

An agreement between the Palestinian militant group and West Jerusalem to release captives could reportedly be announced on Tuesday
Hamas-Israel hostage deal ‘close’ to approval – media

A Qatar-mediated deal to release a number of Israeli hostages taken by Hamas may be announced on Tuesday, several outlets have reported, noting that a temporary ceasefire in Gaza is also expected to be reached.

The agreement will have two phases, Axios claimed, citing sources. According to the outlet, under the first part of the deal, 50 Israeli women and children held hostage in Gaza would be released in exchange for about 150 Palestinian prisoners, most of whom are women and minors.

The exchanges would reportedly be carried out during a four-day ceasefire in Gaza, under which Israel would allow some 300 humanitarian aid trucks per day to enter the Palestinian enclave from Egypt. 

The second phase would involve Hamas releasing up to 50 more Israeli women, children, and elderly hostages in exchange for Israel extending the ceasefire for several more days, Axios said. In addition, Israel would be expected to free imprisoned Palestinians in the same three-to-one ratio as the number of released hostages, it added.

Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh also confirmed that the Palestinian group was “close to reaching a truce agreement” with Israel, Reuters reported, citing a statement sent to the agency by his aide.

Meanwhile, spokesperson for the Qatari Foreign Ministry, Majed Al-Ansari, said that mediation was at the “critical and final” stage, the Times of Israel reported.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office announced on X (formerly Twitter) that the cabinet would meet at 8pm local time on Tuesday “in light of developments on the issue of the release of our hostages.”

On Monday, Netanyahu met with the families of those kidnapped by Hamas, declaring afterwards that Israel “will not stop fighting until we bring our hostages home, destroy Hamas and ensure there will no longer be a threat from Gaza.”

On October 7, Hamas launched a surprise attack against Israel, killing about 1,200 people and taking 240 hostage, Israeli officials said. In response, West Jerusalem launched massive airstrikes and a major ground offensive in Gaza, killing at least 13,000 people, according to Palestinian officials. 

Hamas has stated that they are ready to exchange hostages for thousands of Palestinians that are currently being held in Israeli prisons.