Approaching truce deal with Israel, says Hamas

Approaching truce deal with Israel, says Hamas

Gaza: Hamas officials are “approaching a truce agreement” with Israel after weeks of the war in the Gaza Strip, says Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh.

“We are close to reaching a deal on a truce,” Haniyeh said in a statement posted on Telegram.

Negotiators have been working to seal a deal to allow the release of around 240 mostly Israeli hostages seized on Oct 7, during the deadliest assault on Israel in its history.

Intense negotiations mediated by Qatar, where Hamas has a political office and where Haniyeh is based, have been underway.

Qatar’s prime minister said Sunday that a deal to free some of the hostages in return for a temporary ceasefire hinged on “minor” practical issues.

On Monday, US President Joe Biden said he believed a deal to free the hostages was close. Biden then crossed his fingers to signal he hoped for good luck.

In return, between 50 and 100 prisoners held by Hamas and Islamic Jihad would be released including Israeli civilians and captives of other nationalities, but no military personnel.

Under the proposed deal, some 300 Palestinians would be released from Israeli jails, among them women and children.

The White House said the negotiations were in the “endgame” stage, but refused to give further details, saying it could jeopardise a successful outcome.

Separately, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said Monday that its president had travelled to Qatar to meet Hamas’ Haniyeh “to advance humanitarian issues related to the armed conflict in Israel and Gaza”.

In a statement, the ICRC said it was continuing “to appeal for the urgent protection of all victims in the conflict, and for the alleviation of the catastrophic humanitarian situation in the Gaza strip”. It also said it had “persistently called for the immediate release of hostages”.