update deskIsrael at War

Report: Israel-Hamas hostage deal close

The U.S.-brokered agreement would see an initial 50 or more women and children freed in smaller batches every 24 hours in exchange for a five-day pause in fighting.

Israelis attend a rally calling for the release of Israelis held kidnapped by Hamas terrorists in Gaza at "Hostage Square" in Tel Aviv, Nov. 18, 2023. Photo by Miriam Alster/Flash90.
Israelis attend a rally calling for the release of Israelis held kidnapped by Hamas terrorists in Gaza at "Hostage Square" in Tel Aviv, Nov. 18, 2023. Photo by Miriam Alster/Flash90.

Israel and Hamas are close to a U.S.-brokered agreement that would see dozens of women and children held hostage in Gaza freed in exchange for a five-day pause in fighting, The Washington Post reported on Saturday.

The newspaper said that under the terms of the six-page agreement, the Israel Defense Forces and Hamas would cease combat while “an initial 50 or more hostages are released in smaller batches every 24 hours.” The exact number to be released is not clear.

Hamas took some 240 Israelis hostage during its Oct. 7 assault on the northwestern Negev, during which it murdered 1,200 people and wounded more than 5,000.

The temporary ceasefire would be monitored by overhead surveillance to ensure compliance, according to the report. The pause in combat is also intended to allow for more humanitarian aid, including fuel, to enter the Strip from Egypt via the Rafah Crossing.

U.S. National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson tweeted in response to the report that there was “no deal yet but we continue to work hard to get a deal.”

A Biden administration told the Washington Post that “we’ve made some progress recently and have been working hard to advance this, but it remains a volatile situation.”

The framework of an agreement was hashed out during weeks of talks in Doha, Qatar, between Israel, the United States and Hamas, represented by Qatari mediators, according to the report.

On Saturday night, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dismissed “a lot of incorrect reports” regarding a deal during a lengthy joint press conference at the Kirya military headquarters in Tel Aviv alongside Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and minister-without-portfolio in the War Cabinet Benny Gantz.

Asked about a potential deal for the release of some 50 hostages in exchange for a three-day truce first reported on Wednesday by Reuters, Netanyahu said that “there was no deal on the table.”

“We want to get back all the hostages,” the premier said. “We’re doing the utmost to bring back the most possible, including in stages, and we are united on this.”

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