Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, on Tuesday (Nov 21), said that his militant group was nearing a truce agreement with Israel amid the ongoing war in Gaza. This comes as negotiators are working to secure a deal between the two sides amid the mounting death toll and deteriorating humanitarian situation in the Palestinian enclave.
‘Close to reaching a deal’
In a post on Telegram, Haniyeh said “We are close to reaching a deal on a truce,” as quoted by AFP. This comes as Qatar has been mediating with Hamas as it negotiates with Israel and the United States for the release of hostages held by the Palestinian militant group in Gaza.
Around 1,200 people were killed in Israel after Hamas launched its surprise attack on October 7, according to Israeli officials. The Palestinian militant group also took more than 200 hostages, including civilians and military personnel.
Israel has since retaliated with constant bombardment and later launched a ground operation in the Gaza Strip, which according to the Hamas-run Palestinian health ministry has killed more than 13,000 people.
What we know about the potential deal
A report by news agency AFP, citing two sources familiar with the talks, said that the tentative deal includes a five-day truce, consisting of a ceasefire on the ground and limits to Israeli air operations over southern Gaza.
In exchange for the return of between 50 and 100 prisoners held by Hamas and Islamic Jihad – a separate Palestinian militant group – would include Israeli civilians and captives of other nationalities, but not military personnel.
If agreed upon, some 300 Palestinians would also be released from Israeli jails, among them women and children.
Meanwhile, US President Joe Biden, on Monday (Nov 20) said that he believes that a deal to free some of the hostages in exchange for a ceasefire is close.
“I believe so,” said Biden when asked whether a deal was near during a Thanksgiving ceremony at the White House and went on to cross his fingers to signal he hoped for good luck.
Hamas leader’s meeting with ICRC chief
Separately, the Hamas’ leader also met with Mirjana Spoljaric, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Qatar on Monday (Nov 20) to “advance humanitarian issues” related to the conflict, the Geneva-based ICRC said in a statement.
The Geneva-based organisation said it was continuing “to appeal for the urgent protection of all victims in the conflict, and for the alleviation of the catastrophic humanitarian situation in the Gaza strip” and had “persistently called for the immediate release of hostages.”
(With inputs from agencies)
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