Israel and Hamas may expand prisoner swap deal – media
Israel and Hamas are expected to conduct another prisoner swap on Wednesday as part of the ongoing ceasefire, with talks reportedly underway to expand the deal to include more than women and children.
According to Reuters, discussions regarding the inclusion of men and service members in prisoner exchanges took place as the heads of the CIA and Israel’s Mossad intelligence agencies met with senior Qatari officials in Doha. Should the sides reach an agreement, it may produce a ceasefire that could last “more than a handful of days,” the news agency reported.
Meanwhile, on Wednesday, several Israeli media outlets reported, citing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office, that the country’s authorities had received a list containing the names of another group of hostages to be released soon.
On the same day, a source close to Hamas told AFP that it was willing to extend the truce in Gaza by an additional four days, as well as releasing “Israeli prisoners… according to the terms of the existing truce.”
Last week, following intense Qatari-mediated talks, Israel and Hamas agreed to a temporary four-day ceasefire. The most significant part of the agreement was Israel’s pledge to release 150 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the group freeing 50 Israeli hostages. Since the start of the conflict, Hamas has captured around 240 hostages.
Israeli officials have said they were ready to prolong the ceasefire on the condition that, for every additional day of peace, Hamas releases another ten hostages. The truce has already been extended several times. On Tuesday, Hamas freed a group of 12 hostages, including ten Israelis and two Thai nationals, bringing the total number of prisoners released to 80. Israel has freed 180 Palestinian prisoners.
However, Israel and Hamas have still traded accusations of violating the ongoing ceasefire. The Al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ military wing, claimed that a “clear violation” of the agreement had taken place in northern Gaza, but that the group’s fighters had “dealt” with it.
Meanwhile, the IDF presented its own account of events, stating that “three explosive devices were detonated” near Israeli troops in two different locations in that area. It noted that its service members had also come under fire in one location, adding that both incidents resulted in “a number of soldiers [being] lightly injured.”