A Hamas leader and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu both signaled on Tuesday that they might be close to reaching an agreement on Hamas releasing hostages in exchange for a short ceasefire.
Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas’s senior political leader based in Qatar, said Hamas officials are “approaching a truce agreement” with Israel. Netanyahu said Israel was working on a hostage deal and that he hoped “we will have good news soon.”
The Israeli government announced that Netanyahu would be holding a cabinet meeting on Tuesday “in light of developments on the issue of the release of our hostages.” Over in Washington, President Biden said he believed a deal was “very close.”
According to The New York Times, the outline of the deal involves Hamas immediately releasing about 50 women and children in exchange for Israel releasing 100 Palestinian women and children it has arbitrarily detained and a five-day ceasefire. Other reports have said Hamas would release more hostages throughout the five-day pause in fighting.
Israel and Hamas have been engaged in Qatari-brokered negotiations for weeks now, and Israel has rejected previous potential hostage deals. A Hamas official told Al Jazeera that the current negotiations are focused on how long the pause in fighting will last, the mechanisms for exchanging prisoners, and the delivery of aid during the ceasefire.
The Biden administration has supported the idea of “humanitarian pauses” in Gaza to facilitate more aid and the release of hostages but refuses to call for a lasting ceasefire, demonstrating the US’s commitment to backing Israel’s brutal onslaught. So far, the Israeli campaign in Gaza is estimated to have killed over 13,000 Palestinians, including over 5,500 children, but the numbers are not confirmed as Gaza’s Health Ministry says it’s now impossible to count the dead.