Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said on Tuesday that his militant movement was close to a ceasefire deal with Israel, according to a statement posted on Telegram.
“We are close to reaching an agreement on a ceasefire,” Haniyeh said, according to the post.
Negotiators have been trying to reach a deal that would allow the release of some 240 hostages, most of whom are Israelis captured on October 7 in the deadliest attack on Israel in the country’s history.
Hamas militants also killed around 1,200 people during the cross-border attacks, most of them civilians.
Israel then launched relentless bomb attacks and ground attacks in retaliation for the attack, and vowed to destroy Hamas and guarantee the release of the hostages.
According to the Hamas government in Gaza, the war has killed more than 13,300 people, thousands of them children.
Intensive negotiations mediated by Qatar, where Hamas has offices and where Haniyeh is based, have been ongoing.
Qatar’s prime minister on Sunday said the deal to free some hostages in exchange for a temporary ceasefire was still hampered by some “minor” practical problems.
On Monday (20/11), US President Joe Biden believed an agreement to free the hostages was close.
“I believe so,” Biden said when asked whether a deal on the hostages was close.
Biden then crossed his fingers, indicating that he wished him luck.
Two sources familiar with the negotiations told AFP that the tentative agreement includes a five-day ceasefire, consisting of a ceasefire on the ground and restrictions on Israeli air operations in southern Gaza.
In return, around 50 to 100 hostages held by Hamas and Islamic Jihad – a separate Palestinian militant group – will be freed.
They include Israeli civilians and other foreign nationals, but not military personnel.
Under the proposed deal, around 300 Palestinians would be released from Israeli prisons, among them women and children.
The White House said the negotiations were in the “final” stages, but declined to elaborate, fearing it could jeopardize a successful outcome. Separately, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Monday that its president had visited Qatar to meet with Haniyeh Hamas “to advance humanitarian issues related to the armed conflict in Israel and Gaza.”
In a statement, the Geneva-based organization said it continues to “call for urgent protection for all victims of the conflict and the alleviation of the disastrous humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip.”
The organization also said it “constantly calls for the immediate release of the hostages.” (rd/rs)