‘Very close’: Israel-Hamas on brink of hostage deal, ceasefire

Israeli hostages could be released in exchange for a four-day ceasefire in Gaza.

Israeli hostages could be released in exchange for a four-day ceasefire in Gaza. Photo: Getty/TND

Warring Israel and Hamas are close to agreement on their first truce, involving a mass exchange of captives on both sides and a four-day pause in fighting, according to multiple media outlets.

The deal reportedly includes the release of 50 Israeli women and children, who were kidnapped by Hamas on October 7, in exchange for 150 Palestinian women and youth in custody in Israel.

Hamas would release the hostages over several days, reported as 12 Israelis handed back each day in return for a four-day ceasefire, writes the BBC.

The Israeli side would release from custody 150 Palestinian prisoners – said to be women and children.

The deal, which would include the first truce of the war, was in its “final stages” and “closer than it has ever been”, a source briefed on the negotiations told Reuters.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he hoped for good news soon, the most optimistic signals so far.

“We are making progress. I don’t think it’s worth saying too much, not at even this moment, but I hope there will be good news soon,” Netanyahu said, according to remarks released by his office.

Hamas officials also said they were “close to reaching a truce agreement”.

Netanyahu would convene his war cabinet on Tuesday (local time), his office said, followed by meetings of his wider security cabinet and the full cabinet.

US President Joe Biden said “we are now very close, very close” but added “nothing is done until it’s done”.

A Hamas official told al-Jazeera TV that negotiations were centred on how long the truce would last, arrangements for delivering aid into Gaza and details of the exchange of captives.

Both sides would free women and children and details would be announced by Qatar, which is mediating in the negotiations, Hamas official Issat el Reshiq said.

Israel’s Channel 12 and Channel 13 TV stations both quoted unidentified officials as saying terms of a deal could be reached “within hours”.

Israeli families have kept up a public campaign for the release of their loved ones. Photo: Getty

Hamas took about 240 hostages during its October 7 rampage into Israel that killed 1200 people, according to Israeli tallies.

The Hamas raid on October 7, the deadliest day in Israel’s 75-year-old history, prompted Israel to invade Gaza to annihilate the militant group that has ruled there since 2007.

Since then, Gaza’s Hamas-run government says at least 13,300 Palestinians have been confirmed killed, including at least 5600 children, by Israeli bombardment that has turned much of Gaza, especially its northern half, into wasteland.

Gaza health authorities said on Tuesday (local time) at least 20 Palestinians were killed in Israeli bombing of the Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza at midnight.

There was no immediate comment from Israel.

The already crowded Nuseirat district, which grew out of a camp for Palestinian refugees from the 1948 Israeli-Arab war, is just south of the wetlands that bisect the strip and has been the arrival point for huge numbers escaping the fighting further north.

Bombing in southern areas leaves Gazans fearing they have no place safe to go.

The home of the al-Haj family in ruins in Gaza. Photo: Getty

Neighbouring Egypt has allowed the relocation of some wounded and foreign passport holders but says it will not accept a mass exodus.

“Continued bombing targeting displaced people in the South has a clear objective, and that is to force Gaza’s residents to leave the Strip,” Egypt’s foreign ministry spokesman said on X.

“Egypt has clearly declared its utter rejection of any enforced displacement attempt of Palestinians.”

Stay informed, daily
A FREE subscription to The New Daily arrives every morning and evening.
The New Daily is a trusted source of national news and information and is provided free for all Australians. Read our editorial charter
Copyright © 2024 The New Daily.
All rights reserved.