DOHA/CAIRO: Qatari mediators tried to negotiate a deal between Hamas and Israel on Wednesday that includes the release of about 50 civilian hostages in Gaza in exchange for a three-day ceasefire, an official with knowledge of the talks said. Reuters.
The deal, discussed in coordination with the United States, would also see Israel release some Palestinian women and children from Israeli prisons and increase the amount of humanitarian aid allowed into Gaza, the official said.
This would mark the largest release of hostages held by Hamas since Hamas has crossed the Gaza border, attacked parts of Israel and taken hostages throughout the region.
Hamas has agreed to the broad outlines of this agreement, but Israel has not and is still negotiating the details, the official said.
It is unknown how many Palestinian women and children Israel will release from prisons under the discussed agreement.
The scope of the Qatar-led talks has changed significantly in recent weeks, but the fact that talks are now focused on the release of 50 civilian detainees in exchange for a three-day ceasefire and that Hamas has agreed to the outlines of the agreement has not previously been reported.
Qatar, a rich Gulf country with ambitious foreign policy goals, has a direct line of communication with Hamas and Israel. He had previously brokered a ceasefire between the two.
Such an agreement would require Hamas to hand over a full list of surviving civilian hostages remaining in Gaza.
A more comprehensive release of all hostages is not currently being discussed, the official said.
Israeli officials, who had previously refused to comment in detail about the hostage negotiations, did not immediately respond, citing their reluctance to undermine diplomacy or fuel reports of what they described as “psychological warfare” by Hamas.
Qatar’s Foreign Ministry and Hamas’ political office in Doha declined to comment.
Qatar, where Hamas has a political office, is mediating between Hamas and Israeli officials regarding the release of more than 240 hostages.
Israel then launched a relentless bombardment of Gaza and launched an armored invasion of the region late last month.
According to Palestinian officials, 11,000 people were killed, including nearly 40 percent children and many more buried under the rubble.
Israeli Minister Benny Gantz, who is in the war cabinet, said at a press conference on Wednesday: “Even if we have to stop the war to return our hostages, it will not be possible to stop the conflict and the war until we achieve our goal. goals.”
When asked what was holding up the hostage deal, Gantz refused to give any details.
Sources elsewhere in the Gulf and Middle East have said earlier that talks had focused on Hamas releasing up to 15 hostages and a pause in Gaza fighting for up to three days.
There has been no comment yet from the Qatar Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Hamas’ political office in Doha.
Two Egyptian security sources said an agreement had so far been reached only on a limited ceasefire in certain parts of Gaza. They said Israel had been reluctant to reach a broader agreement but appeared to be moving closer to doing so on Tuesday.
Hamas has informed Qatari negotiators that it is ready to release up to 70 women and children in exchange for a five-day ceasefire, the Qassam Brigades said on Monday.
“We have been working tirelessly to release the hostages, including using increased pressure since the start of the ground operation,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday.
Any agreement faces many obstacles.
A Western diplomat in the region said it was unclear whether Hamas would be able to compile an accurate list of hostages it currently holds, as the war has caused communication and organizational problems in Gaza.
Another source with knowledge of negotiations in the region said gathering hostages for any simultaneous release Israel wants would be logistically difficult without a ceasefire.
The same source said there was also uncertainty about whether Hamas’s military and political leadership had reached an agreement, but this was later resolved, and there were also concerns that Israeli military pressure was making the agreement difficult.
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