update deskIsrael at War

Jerusalem awaits Hamas’s response to hostage-deal proposal

The terrorist group reportedly reacted negatively to the latest offer, which U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said included "very important compromises" by Israel.

People walking next to large pictures of Israeli women held hostage in the Gaza Strip as part of a protest calling for their release, near the Prime Minister's official residence in Jerusalem, May 2, 2024. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.
People walking next to large pictures of Israeli women held hostage in the Gaza Strip as part of a protest calling for their release, near the Prime Minister's official residence in Jerusalem, May 2, 2024. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.

Jerusalem was still waiting on Thursday morning for a response from Hamas to the latest hostage-deal proposal, which U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said features “very important compromises” by Israel.

Speaking at the port of Ashdod in southern Israel on Wednesday, the top American diplomat urged the Gaza-based terror group to take the deal on the table. “There’s no time for further haggling. The deal is there. They [Hamas] should take it.”

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets with Israelis during a protest calling for the release of Israelis held kidnapped by Hamas terrorists in Gaza, in Tel Aviv on May 1, 2024. Photo by Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90.

However, Osama Hamdan, a Hamas official based in Lebanon, told the Hezbollah-affiliated Al-Manar TV that “our position on the current negotiating paper is negative,” according to The Times of Israel.

The terrorist organization’s press officer later clarified that “the negative position does not mean negotiations have stopped. There is a back-and-forth issue.”

Hamas will reportedly submit an amended proposal to the one given to them, which was drafted by American, Egyptian and Qatari mediators and green-lit by Jerusalem.

A senior Hamas official, Sami Abu Zuhri, told Reuters that “Blinken’s comments contradict reality,” blaming Israel for the impasse.

An Israeli delegation is not heading back to Cairo for truce talks until Hamas terror leader in Gaza Yahya Sinwar issues a response, an Israeli official told Reuters.

Jerusalem has rejected Hamas’s demand to end the war, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday that the Israel Defense Forces will enter the Hamas stronghold of Rafah in southern Gaza irrespective of the outcome of hostage negotiations.

Sinwar is expected to oppose an outline that doesn’t end the war, Channel 13 reported.

Hamas spokesman Hamdan warned that negotiations would stop if Israel launched the Rafah operation. “We do not conduct negotiations under fire,” he said.

On Wednesday, Blinken reiterated the Biden administration’s opposition to a full-scale invasion of Rafah “absent an effective plan to make sure that civilians are not harmed,” which he said that Israel has not yet provided.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant spoke with his U.S. counterpart Lloyd Austin by phone on Wednesday about the hostage deal and pending Rafah operation, as well as humanitarian aid into the Strip. According to the U.S. side, Austin conveyed to Gallant the importance of evacuating noncombatants from Rafah ahead of the offensive and continuing the flow of humanitarian aid.

Israelis block the Ayalon Highway in Tel Aviv, during a protest calling for the release of Israelis held kidnapped by Hamas terrorists in Gaza on May 2, 2024. Photo by Erik Marmor/Flash90.

Meanwhile, domestic pressure for Netanyahu to accept the hostage deal continued on Thursday morning, with families of hostages and protesters blocking the Ayalon Highway in Tel Aviv, leading to at least one arrest. Another woman was reportedly arrested for throwing eggs at the protesters, who blocked the road for 20 minutes.

According to reports, the hostage deal would see 33 Israeli captives released in exchange for a larger number of Palestinian prisoners and a temporary halt to fighting, with issues such as ending the war and rehabilitating Gaza worked out in later stages.

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