ISRAEL is on the brink of striking a deal to free hostages and halt fighting in Gaza, the chief of Hamas has claimed.
The terror group’s leader Ismail Haniyeh said it’s “close to reaching a truce agreement” with Israel even as the bloody assault in the war-torn enclave continues.
An agreement for a five-day truce is close, sparking hopes for Israeli hostages[/caption]
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said the deal for a ceasefire is close[/caption]
In response to the October 7 attack, Israel has unleashed a barrage of missiles over Gaza[/caption]
The statement sparked hopes for the fate of the Israeli hostages held by Hamas in the October 7 massacre.
A total of 240 hostages are being held in Gaza, including at least 30 children, according to the Israeli Embassy.
While the group’s leader did not provide any more information, a Hamas official gave some details of the negotiations to Al Jazeera TV.
Issat el Reshiq explained that negotiations were focused on how long the truce would last, arrangements for the delivery of aid into Gaza and the exchange of Israeli hostages held by Hamas for Palestinian prisoners in Israel.
Both sides would free women and children and details would be announced by Qatar, which is mediating in the negotiations, he said.
Sources from Hamas and Islamic Jihad also confirmed that their groups had agreed to the terms of a truce deal.
The agreement includes a five-day truce, comprised of a ceasefire on the ground and limits to Israeli air operations over southern Gaza.
Under the agreement between 50 and 100 Israeli civilian and foreign hostages would be released – excluding military personnel.
In exchange, some 300 Palestinians would be released from Israeli prisons, among them women and children.
The agreement would also allow for up to 300 trucks of food and medical aid to enter Gaza.
Talks about a deal have been going around for weeks.
On Monday, US President Joe Biden said he believed an agreement was near as hopes grew for talks brokered by.
The International Committee of the Red Cross said Monday that its president had travelled to Qatar to meet Hamas’s Haniyeh.
And on Sunday Israel’s ambassador to the US, Michael Herzog said he was hopeful a deal would be struck in the coming days.
While senior White House official Jonathan Finer said he believed the “vast majority” of the hostages were “most likely” alive adding that negotiations had reached a “sensitive stage.”
If it goes ahead, the agreement would be the first pause in the conflict, since the October 7 attacks which claimed 1,200 lives.
In retaliation, Israel launched an expanding ground offensive and has been bombarding Gaza for the past six weeks.
Large parts of Gaza have been destroyed by airthat have numbered in the thousands, and the territory is under siege, with minimal food, water and fuel allowed to enter.
Gaza’s Hamas-run government claims at least 13,300 Palestinians have been killed including over 5,500 children and 3,500 women – though these figures remain unverified and are disputed by Israel.
Israel has argued its forces are targeting “terror infrastructure” while Hamas denies using Gazan medical facilities for cover.
Israel has claimed Hamas is attempting to use innocent civilians as “human shields”.
The Red Cross estimates some 1.5 million civilians have been forced to flee south amid Israel’s onslaught from land, air, and sea.
Israel has vowed to press ahead with its offensive, pledging to crush Hamas and ensure the hostages are released.
“We will not stop fighting until we bring our hostages home,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared after meeting relatives of those abducted.
Shocking CCTV footage appearing to show Hamas terrorists dragging hostages into the al-Shifa hospital has emerged while a pregnant woman gave birth while in captivity.
Meanwhile, 28 babies have been rescued from al-Shifa and transported over the Rafah border to safety in Egypt.
It is estimated 240 people were seized on the October 7 attack[/caption]
Large parts of Gaza have been reduced to rubble[/caption]
28 premature babies were transferred to Egypt on Monday[/caption]