Ismail Haniyeh, the leader of the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, told Reuters today that Hamas officials and Israel are “close to a ceasefire agreement” and that Hamas has conveyed its response to Qatari personnel coordinating the negotiations. . However, the terms and further details of this possible agreement have not yet been announced.
Hamas carried out a cross-border raid on Israel on October 7, killing about 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and taking about 240 hostages, mostly Israelis. In retaliation, Israel began continuously bombing the Gaza region and launched a ground offensive, resulting in the deaths of more than 13,300 people, including thousands of children. During this period, negotiators have been working hard to reach an agreement and actively promote the release of the hostages. Haniya used Qatar as a stronghold, and Hamas also had a political office there. Qatar acted as a mediator and facilitated intensive negotiations.
Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Herzog said in an interview with ABC’s “This Week” program on the 19th that he hoped to reach an agreement “in the next few days”; Qatar Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman al-Thani also said on the same day that the agreement to release some hostages in exchange for a temporary ceasefire only had “minor” issues. US President Biden also said yesterday that he believed an agreement to release the hostages would be reached soon.
Two sources familiar with the matter told AFP that there was an interim agreement for a five-day ceasefire, including a ground ceasefire and restrictions on Israeli air strikes in southern Gaza, in exchange for the release of 50 militants from Hamas and another Palestinian armed group, Islamic Jihad. There are up to 100 hostages, including Israeli civilians and people of other nationalities, but not military personnel. Under the proposed deal, about 300 Palestinians, including women and children, would be released from Israeli prisons.
The White House said the negotiations were in the final stages but would not elaborate further for fear of undermining the results. White House deputy national security adviser Jon Finer said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” program on the 19th: “Sensitive negotiations like this may break down until the last minute… Nothing is finalized until both parties agree on everything.”
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