They are negotiating a deal to release dozens of people held captive by Hamas in exchange for a three-day ceasefire, according to Reuters news agency and US digital publication Axios. Qatari mediators are trying to negotiate a settlement that could also result in the release of some Palestinian women and children from Israeli prisons.
Here are the details:
What do the reports say?
The agreement is still under discussion in cooperation with the United States – a close ally of Israel – some of whose citizens are among the captives.
Part of the agreement includes the release of approximately 50 civilian captives in Gaza, a rapid jump from previous reports that suggested Hamas would release 10-15 captives. Hamas would also have to reveal a full list of the remaining living civilian hostages being held in Gaza, according to an official briefed on the negotiations.
Israel would also release some Palestinian women and children from Israeli prisons. However, it is not known how many copies will be released. Israel would also increase the amount of humanitarian aid allowed to Gaza, the official said.
Qatar, where Hamas runs a political office, has a direct line of communication with both Israel and Hamas and has previously worked to negotiate a truce between them. Qatar’s mediation efforts have so far resulted in the release of four of the approximately 240 hostages that Israeli officials say were taken by Hamas on October 7.
Qatar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs declined to comment on the agreement.
US President Joe Biden expressed “mild hope” that an agreement would be reached on Wednesday to release prisoners held by Hamas.
What did Israel say?
Israeli officials, who previously declined to provide detailed comments on negotiations to release the prisoners, did not immediately receive a response.
However, an official involved in the negotiations said Israel had not agreed to the terms of the deal and was still negotiating details.
Meanwhile, Israel continued to bombard Gaza and its forces raided al-Shifa Hospital, the largest medical facility in the enclave. More than 11,000 Palestinians have so far been killed in the Israeli military attack, including about 40 percent of them children, with more buried under the rubble.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday that “we have been working tirelessly to secure the release of the hostages, applying increased pressure since the beginning of the ground incursion.”
He was under pressure from the prisoners’ families, who insisted that the government negotiate their release.
What did Hamas say?
Izzat El Rashq, a member of the Hamas political bureau, did not directly confirm the agreement in question when asked by Reuters. There was also no immediate comment from the Hamas political office in Doha.
Thai Muslim politicians said on Thursday they had received assurances from Hamas that all held Thai hostages would be among those freed if mediators succeed in brokering a truce in Gaza.
According to Reuters, Hamas’ armed wing, the Qassam Brigade, said on Monday that it had informed Qatari negotiators that it was willing to release up to 70 women and children in exchange for a five-day truce.
How many prisoners have been released so far?
So far, four prisoners have been released after negotiations through diplomatic channels with mediation from countries including Qatar and Egypt.
On October 20, Hamas released the first prisoners – US citizens Judith Raanan (59) and her daughter Natalie Raanan (17) – claiming that it was “for humanitarian reasons”.
On October 23, two Israeli women were also released – Nurit Cooper (79) and Yocheved Lifshitz (85).
According to the Israeli military, a fifth person, Private Ori Megidish, was rescued on October 30 during an airstrike in Gaza territory.
The prisoners held by Hamas are believed to include citizens of Russia, the United States, France, Spain, Italy, Thailand, Germany, Argentina and the Netherlands. Thailand is in talks with Iran and other governments to secure the release of 23 of its citizens detained in Gaza.