Updated Nov 21, 2023, 05:41am EST
Hamas’ political chief claimed the militant group is nearing a “truce agreement” with Israel, Reuters reported, raising expectations for a deal that may allow the safe return of hostages held in Gaza and the delivery of critical humanitarian aid to the Palestinian enclave.
According to Reuters, Hamas’ top political leader Ismail Haniyeh said they are “close to reaching a truce agreement” and has shared its stance with Qatari mediators.
The comment did not include further details on what a truce would cover and how long it is expected to last.
Another Hamas official, Izzat al-Rishq, told Al Jazeera that a deal would include a ceasefire, aid delivery to Gaza, and the transfer of injured people to hospitals in other countries.
Haaretz also reported a deal is close, noting that Hamas has agreed to release 50 hostages who are women and children in exchange for 150 Palestinian prisoners in Israel—all women and children.
Hamas is also seeking a five-day ceasefire that includes a halt on all aerial bombardment by Israel, Haaretz reported, largely echoing an earlier report by the Washington Post.
Any deal, however, is not yet final due to what Haaretz reports is the “unpredictable” nature of Hamas’ top leader in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar.
On Sunday, Qatar’s Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman al-Thani said only minor issues need to be ironed out for a deal. “The challenges facing the agreement are just practical and logistical…But I think that you know, I’m now more confident that we are close enough to reach a deal that can bring the people safely back to their home.”
On Monday, the relatives of hostages who met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his war cabinet told reporters they were informed the government would not prioritize the release of the hostage over defeating Hamas. “What we’ve heard is that taking down Hamas and bringing the hostages (home) are…equally important,” said Udi Goren, whose cousin is being held captive in Gaza. “This is incredibly disappointing because…we know that taking down Hamas, we keep hearing from them (it) is going to take months or years and it’s going to take a long time.”
240. That is how many hostages are being held in Gaza by Hamas and affiliate groups, according to the Israeli media. There has been some ambiguity about the total number of hostages in Gaza with one Hamas official saying the group doesn’t have an exact count, while Israeli officials have provided a few different numbers. Initial numbers released by the Israeli Defense Forces suggested 199 hostages were being held in Gaza but this was slowly revised upwards to 203, then 222.
Hamas chief says truce deal with Israel is ‘close’ (Reuters)
Chances of Gaza Hostage Deal Grow Thanks to Change of Direction by Hamas – and Israel (Haaretz)
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