DOHA, Qatar – Two sources familiar with the talks told AFP a tentative deal includes a five-day truce, comprised of a ceasefire on the ground and limits to Israeli air operations over southern Gaza.
In return, between 50 and 100 prisoners held by Hamas and Islamic Jihad — a separate Palestinian group — would be released. They would include Israeli civilians and captives of other nationalities, but no military personnel.
According to AFP, under the proposed deal, some 300 Palestinians would be released from Israeli jails, among them women and children.
The White House said the negotiations were in the “endgame” stage, but refused to give further details, saying it could jeopardise a successful outcome.
Israeli soldiers transfer detained Palestinians out of the Gaza Strip on Nov 20, 2023. — AFP
Hamas says close to reaching a deal on truce with Israel
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh has his movement was nearing a truce agreement with Israel, according to a statement posted on Telegram, AFP reports.
“We are close to reaching a deal on a truce,” Haniyeh said, according to the post.
Intense negotiations mediated by Qatar, where Hamas has a political office and where Haniyeh is based, have been under way.
Qatar’s prime minister said Sunday that a deal to free some of the hostages in return for a temporary ceasefire hinged on “minor” practical issues.
12 killed in firing into Gaza’s Indonesian hospital encircled by Israeli tanks
At the Indonesian Hospital, funded by Jakarta, Gaza’s health ministry has said that at least 12 Palestinians were killed and dozens wounded by firing into the complex encircled by Israeli tanks.
Health officials said 700 patients along with staff were under Israeli fire.
The Palestinian news agency Wafa said the facility in the northeast Gaza town of Beit Lahia had been hit by artillery rounds. Hospital staff denied there were any armed fighters on the premises.
The Israeli forces said troops had fired back at fighters in the hospital while taking “numerous measures to minimise harm” to non-combatants.
Like all other health facilities in the northern half of Gaza, the Indonesian Hospital has largely ceased operations but is still sheltering patients, staff and displaced residents.
Red Cross president meets Hamas leader; says ready to facilitate hostages’ release
Mirjana Spoljaric, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), met in Qatar on Monday with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh to “advance humanitarian issues” related to the conflict, the Geneva-based ICRC said in a statement. She also met separately with Qatari authorities.
According to Reuters, the organisation said it was not part of negotiations aimed at releasing the hostages. But as a neutral intermediary it was ready “to facilitate any future release that the parties agree to,” it said.
Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Herzog said on ABC‘s “This Week” on Sunday that he hoped for an agreement “in the coming days” while Qatar’s Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman al-Thani said that the remaining sticking points were “very minor”.
The Washington Post on Saturday reported a deal had been agreed but the White House and Israel denied that. The two sides have appeared close before.
White House says Israel-Hamas hostage deal closer than before
The United States believes that Israel and Hamas are getting closer to a deal that would secure the release of some hostages held in Gaza, even as the Israeli military’s deadly assault on Gaza City continued and rockets were being fired into Israel, Reuters reports.
US President Joe Biden said on Monday he believed an accord was near. “We’re closer now than we’ve been before,” White House spokesman John Kirby said of a hostage agreement.
Talk of an imminent hostage deal has been swirling for days.
“We really need to adhere to the mantra that nothing is agreed until everything is agreed,” White House deputy national security adviser Jon Finer told NBC’s “Meet the Press” program on Sunday. “Sensitive negotiations like this can fall apart at the last minute,” Finer added.
Relatives of some of the people held by Hamas in Gaza urged far-right Israeli lawmakers on Monday not to pursue proposed capital punishment for captured Palestinian fighters, saying that even talk of doing so might endanger the hostages. -Agencies