Hamas’s political leader, Ismail Haniyeh, said the force is close to reaching a ceasefire agreement with Israel in the ongoing conflict in Gaza.
Ismail Haniyeh did not detail the terms of the ceasefire agreement in his Telegram post today, but said that Hamas forces had given answers to Qatari mediators.
Tense negotiations were brokered by Qatar. Hamas has a political office in Qatar and Haniyeh is also in the country. Two sources familiar with the matter said that the agreement envisages a five-day ceasefire, including a ground ceasefire and limits on Israeli air activities in southern Gaza, to facilitate the delivery of aid. About 300 Palestinians will be released from Israeli prisons, including women and children.
In return, about 50-100 hostages being held by Hamas and the Islamic Jihad organization will be released. The group includes Israeli civilians and people of other nationalities, but no military personnel.
Hamas official Izzat el Reshiq said that details of the agreement would be announced by Qatari officials.
Hamas and allied groups in Gaza are holding about 240 hostages, mostly Israelis, after a raid on the country on October 7.
US President Joe Biden said on November 20 that he believes a hostage agreement is close. US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby also said that “we are closer than ever”.
The International Committee of the Red Cross announced on November 20 that Committee President Mirjana Spoljaric had come to Qatar to meet with Haniyeh to “promote humanitarian issues related to the armed conflict in Israel and Gaza”. The Geneva, Switzerland-based organization also said that it is continuing to “call for urgent protection for all victims of the conflict and relief from the dire humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip”, and “persistently Call for the immediate release of the hostages.”
The Hamas raid became the bloodiest day in Israel’s 75-year history with more than 1,200 people killed, opening the beginning of Israel’s response campaign in the Gaza Strip over the past 6 weeks. Health authorities in the Gaza Strip say more than 13,300 people have died, including at least 5,600 children and 3,550 women, as a result of relentless Israeli bombing.
Huyen Le (According to Reuters, AFP)