Hamas stated that it would immediately implement a ceasefire with Israel. Photo/Reuters
GAZA – Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh told Reuters on Tuesday that the Palestinian militant group was close to reaching a ceasefire agreement with Israel, even as deadly attacks on Gaza continued and rockets were fired at Israel.
“Hamas officials are close to reaching a ceasefire agreement with Israel and the group has conveyed its response to Qatari mediators,” Ismail Haniyeh said in a statement sent to Reuters by his aide.
There were no further details on the terms of the potential agreement.
US President Joe Biden said on Monday he believed a deal was close. “We are closer now than ever,” White House spokesman John Kirby said of the agreement aimed at securing the release of several hostages held in Gaza and a pause in fighting that would allow much-needed aid to the besieged enclave. .
Hamas took around 240 people hostage during its Oct. 7 attack on Israel that killed 1,200 people.
Mirjana Spoljaric, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), met Haniyeh in Qatar on Monday to “raise humanitarian concerns” regarding the conflict, the Geneva-based ICRC said in a statement. He also met separately with Qatari authorities.
The ICRC said it was not part of the negotiations aimed at freeing the hostages, but as a neutral intermediary it was ready to “facilitate future releases agreed to by the parties.”
Talk of a hostage deal has been circulating for days. Reuters reported last week that Qatari mediators were seeking a deal for Hamas and Israel to exchange 50 hostages in exchange for a three-day ceasefire that would increase emergency aid deliveries to Gaza civilians, citing an official briefed on the talks.
Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Herzog said on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday that he expected a deal “in the coming days” while Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman al-Thani said the remaining key points were “very small.” .”