Hamas' top political leader, Ismail Haniyeh, has revealed that the group is on the verge of finalizing a truce agreement with Israel. Haniyeh shared this information with Qatari mediators, but did not provide specific details regarding the content and duration of the potential truce. Another Hamas official, Izzat al-Rishq, stated that the agreement would involve a ceasefire, the delivery of aid to Gaza, and the transfer of injured individuals to hospitals in other countries.
According to Haaretz, the impending deal would see Hamas release 50 hostages—women and children—in exchange for the freedom of 150 Palestinian prisoners in Israel, also comprising women and children. Furthermore, Hamas is seeking a five-day ceasefire that includes a cessation of all Israeli aerial bombardment, aligning with an earlier report by the Washington Post.
However, Haaretz has warned that the deal is not yet finalized due to the "unpredictable" nature of Hamas' top leader in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar. Reports indicate that the release of the hostages is not the Israeli government's primary focus, as they prioritize defeating Hamas. Frustration was expressed by the relatives of the hostages, who met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his war cabinet, as they were informed that taking down Hamas is considered equally important.
Presently, around 240 hostages remain in Gaza under the control of Hamas and its affiliated groups, according to Israeli media reports. The exact number remains uncertain, with discrepancies between Hamas officials and Israeli authorities. Initial estimates from the Israeli Defense Forces suggested there were 199 hostages, but this figure has been revised upwards to 203, then 222.
Qatar's Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman al-Thani has expressed optimism, stating that only minor logistical issues need to be resolved for a potential deal. However, the complexities surrounding the situation warrant caution, as negotiations continue between Hamas and Israel.