- Recent Developments:
- Netanyahu says he hopes ‘good news will come soon’ about the hostages
- US OFFICIAL: We were very close to a hostage deal
Gaza/Jerusalem, Nov. 21 (Reuters) – A cease-fire deal with Israel is close, the leader of Hamas said on Tuesday, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he hoped for good news about the hostages soon. Pause the fight and free the prisoners.
Hamas officials were “close to reaching a cease-fire agreement” with Israel and the group had given its response to Qatari mediators, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said in a statement sent to Reuters by his aide.
Netanyahu said: “We are making progress. I don’t think it’s worth saying too much even at this time, but I hope there will be good news soon”, according to comments released by the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office.
Netanyahu will convene his war cabinet from 1600 GMT “in light of the developments regarding the release of our hostages,” his office said, followed by meetings of his broader defense cabinet and the full cabinet.
A source briefed on the talks told Reuters the long-awaited deal, which would see the war’s first ceasefire and the first mass release of people on both sides, was in its “final stages” and “it’s closer than it’s ever been”. “.
A US official echoed that, saying “we were very close” to a hostage deal.
The deal, the first source described, calls for the release of about 50 civilian hostages and female and under-age Palestinian prisoners from Israeli custody by Hamas, as well as a several-day ceasefire in the fighting.
A Hamas official told Al Jazeera TV that the talks focused on how long the ceasefire would last, arrangements for the delivery of aid to Gaza and the details of prisoner exchanges. Both sides will release women and children, and details of Qatar, which will mediate the talks, will be announced, said official Issad El Reshik.
Both Israel’s Channel 12 and Channel 13 television stations, citing unidentified officials, said the terms of the deal could be reached “within hours.”
According to Israel’s count, Hamas took about 240 hostages in Israel on October 7, killing 1,200 people.
Mirjana Spoljaric, head of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), met with Haniyeh in Qatar on Monday to “advance humanitarian issues” related to the conflict, the Geneva-based ICRC said in a statement. He also met Qatari officials separately.
The ICRC said it was not part of the negotiations aimed at freeing the hostages, but was ready to “facilitate any future release agreed by the parties” as a neutral mediator.
Rain and cold are the worst conditions
Talk of an instant hostage deal swirled for days.
Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Herzog told ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday that he expected an agreement “in the coming days,” while Qatar’s Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani said the remaining sticking points were “too many.” Small”. US President Joe Biden and other US officials said Monday that a deal was close.
The attack by Hamas on October 7, the deadliest day in Israel’s 75-year history, prompted Israel to invade to destroy the militant group that has ruled Gaza since 2007.
Since then, Gaza’s Hamas-run government has confirmed that at least 13,300 Palestinians, including at least 5,600 children, have been killed in Israeli bombardment that has laid waste to much of Gaza, especially its north.
Two-thirds of Gaza’s 2.3 million people have been made homeless, with thousands a day traveling south on foot with belongings and children in their arms. The central and southern parts of the enclave, which Israel asked to leave, are also under constant attack.
A day and night of rain and bitterly cold weather worsened the dire situation for displaced people in Gaza, thousands of whom sleep in rough or makeshift tents.
20 people were reported dead in the Nusirat strike
At least 20 Palestinians were killed in an Israeli bombardment of the Nusirat refugee camp in central Gaza on Tuesday night, Gaza health officials said. There was no immediate comment from Israel.
Just south of the wetlands that bisect the strip is the already congested Nusirat district, a camp for Palestinian refugees from the 1948 Israeli-Arab war and a point of arrival for large numbers of people fleeing the war further north.
Gazans fear they have no safe place to go because of the bombing in the southern areas. Neighboring Egypt has allowed the evacuation of some injured and foreign passport holders.
“The continued bombardment targeting displaced people in the south has a clear objective, which is to force Gaza residents to leave the area,” Egypt’s foreign ministry spokesman told X. .”
Tens of thousands of civilians are believed to remain in the north in defiance of Israeli orders. All hospitals there have ceased to function normally and are still housing many patients and displaced Gazans. Israel claims that Hamas is using the hospitals as shields for its fighters, which Hamas and the hospitals deny.
The World Health Organization said it was working on a plan to evacuate three northern Gaza hospitals: Al Shifa, Al Ahli and the Indonesian Hospital, which it lamented as a last resort.
“It robs the entire population of the North of the means to seek health (care),” WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeyer told a Geneva press conference.
Isam Naban, the head of the Indonesian hospital’s nursing department, told Al-Jazeera on Tuesday that 60 bodies were on the ground after Israeli fire killed 12 people on Monday, WHO and Gaza officials say.
“There is no oxygen to give to the patients. All those on artificial respiration are dead. We speak to the free world. The Indonesian hospital has become a graveyard, not a hospital.”
Nidal al-Mughrabi in Gaza, Emily Rose in Jerusalem, Andrew Mills in Doha, Steve Holland in Washington and Reuters reporting; Written by Idris Ali, Raju Gopalakrishnan, Peter Graf; Editing by Cynthia Osterman, Simon Cameron-Moore and Alex Richardson
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