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Hamas says Gaza truce deal ‘close’, raising hopes for hostages

There was no immediate response from Israel on the status of negotiation efforts to secure the release of the estimated 240 hostages seized during Hamas’s horrific assault.

The majority of the hostages are Israeli civilians, some of them young children and elderly people.

Only a handful have been released, freed by Israeli troops or their bodies recovered.

“We are close to reaching a deal on a truce,” Haniyeh said, according to a statement sent by his office to newsmen.

Hamas gunmen killed around 1,200 people, mostly civilians, during cross-border raids on October 7 — the deadliest attack in Israel’s history.

In retaliation, Israel launched a relentless bombing campaign and ground offensive in Gaza, which is ruled by Hamas.

According to the Hamas government, the war has killed more than 13,300 people, thousands of them children.

Speaking to journalists on condition of anonymity, sources from Hamas and Islamic Jihad — which also participated in the attacks — confirmed that their groups had agreed to the terms of a truce deal.

The tentative deal includes a five-day truce, comprised  a ceasefire on the ground and limits to Israeli air operations over southern Gaza.

Under the agreement, between 50 and 100 Israeli civilian and foreign hostages would be released, but no military personnel.

In exchange, some 300 Palestinians would be released from Israeli jails, among them women and children.

On Monday, US President Joe Biden had said he believed a deal was close, as hopes grew for talks brokered by Qatar, where Hamas has a political office and which has behind-the-scenes diplomatic links with Israel.

The International Committee of the Red Cross said Monday that its president had travelled to Qatar to meet Hamas’s Haniyeh.

‘We will not stop fighting’

An agreement could bring some respite for Gazans who have lived for more than six weeks under Israel bombardment and an expanding ground offensive.

Large parts of Gaza have been destroyed by air strikes that have numbered in the thousands, and the territory is under siege, with minimal food, water and fuel allowed to enter.

According to the Hamas and Islamic Jihad sources, the deal would also allow for up to 300 trucks of food and medical aid to enter Gaza.

Israel has been wary of allowing fuel into the strip for fear it could be used by Hamas in rockets or for other paramilitary means.

Israel has vowed to press ahead with its offensive, pledging to crush Hamas and ensure the hostages are released.

 

 

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Sydney Okafor

I am so passionate about this my profession as a broadcast journalist and voiceover artists and presently a reporter at TV360 Nigeria

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