Hamas Chief, Ismail Haniyeh, has announced that his movement is close to reaching a truce agreement with Israel. Haniyeh made this statement in a post on Telegram. Negotiators have been working towards a deal to secure the release of approximately 240 hostages, mostly Israelis, who were taken captive during the deadliest assault on Israel in its history, which took place on October 7. During the cross-border assault, Hamas fighters killed around 1,200 people, the majority of whom were civilians. In response, Israel launched a relentless bombing campaign and ground offensive, with the aim of destroying Hamas and rescuing the hostages.
According to the Hamas government in Gaza, the war has resulted in the deaths of over 13,300 people, including thousands of children. Intense negotiations, mediated by Qatar, where Hamas has a political office and where Haniyeh is based, have been ongoing. The Prime Minister of Qatar stated on Sunday that the release of some hostages in exchange for a temporary ceasefire depended on minor practical issues.
US President Joe Biden expressed his belief that a hostage deal was nearing completion and even crossed his fingers for good luck. Two sources familiar with the talks revealed that a tentative agreement includes a five-day truce, which consists of a ceasefire on the ground and limitations on Israeli air operations over southern Gaza. In return, Hamas and a separate Palestinian group called Islamic Jihad would release between 50 and 100 prisoners. These prisoners would include Israeli civilians and captives of other nationalities, excluding military personnel. The proposed deal also involves the release of approximately 300 Palestinians, including women and children, from Israeli jails.
Although the White House confirmed that the negotiations were in the “endgame” stage, they declined to provide further details in order to avoid jeopardizing a successful outcome. In a separate development, the President of the International Committee of the Red Cross traveled to Qatar to meet with Hamas’s Haniyeh to address humanitarian issues related to the conflict in Israel and Gaza. The organization continues to advocate for the urgent protection of all victims in the conflict and the alleviation of the dire humanitarian situation in the Gaza strip. They have also been persistently calling for the immediate release of hostages.
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