Ismail Haniyeh, head of Hamas’s political wing, stated this Tuesday that the Islamist group is close to reaching a truce agreement with Israel. after a month and a half of a war that has left more than 14,500 dead, the vast majority of them in the Gaza Strip.
“The movement delivered its response to the brothers in Qatar and the mediators, and we are close to reaching a truce agreement,” said Haniyeh, who has been exiled in Qatar for years, in a brief statement published on Telegram.
In their Oct. 7 attack on southern Israel, Hamas militants killed 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and kidnapped about 240 hostages who were taken to Gaza.
Israel, which promised to “annihilate” Hamas, responded with incessant bombing and ground operations in the Gaza Strip that, according to the Ministry of Health of this territory controlled by the Islamist movement, killed more than 13,300 people, including thousands of minors. .
(You may be interested: Israel and Hamas would be close to an agreement to release hostages in Gaza, says the US.)
Since then, Qatar, Egypt and the United States are working on a pact to try to free the hostages taken by Hamas in exchange for a truce in the besieged and devastated Gaza Strip.
The UN, which has been calling for a ceasefire for humanitarian reasons for weeks, estimates that the war displaced almost 1.7 of the 2.4 million inhabitants of Gaza, which has also been under a “total siege” since October 9. by Israel, which blocks supplies of food, water, electricity and medicine.
Israel has said for weeks that it will not consider a ceasefire until all the hostages are freed. But in recent days there have been growing signs that the two sides are moving closer to an agreement to free some hostages that would include a temporary cessation of fighting.
This is what is known about the agreement between Israel and Hamas.
What would the agreement between Hamas and Israel include?
According to Egyptian security sources, consulted by the Efe agency, The long-awaited agreement between Israel and Hamas would include a five-day truce in the Gaza Strip, during which 50 hostages held by the Palestinian Islamist group would be released in exchange for 300 Palestinian prisoners who are in Israel.
The sources, who asked to remain anonymous due to the sensitivity of the matter, explained that the truce “will last five days in which there will be a complete cessation of flights” of Israeli drones over the Gaza Strip.
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“The agreement includes the release of 50 prisoners held by the resistance (Hamas), including settlers and foreigners, in exchange for 300 (Palestinian) prisoners, children and women,” the sources said.
The release of hostages and prisoners, they indicated, “It will be carried out in stages, at a rate of 10 Israeli hostages per day compared to 30 Palestinian prisoners.”
The pact, according to that version, will also allow entry into the Strip
Gaza of 300 trucks with food, medical and fuel aid.
The Egyptian versions coincide with urgent messages broadcast by the Egyptian television channel Al Qahera News, in which A “high-level source” assured that “Egypt has intensified its efforts” and “joint coordination with Qatar” for the achievement of a humanitarian truce between Israel and Hamas and an exchange of hostages and prisoners.
According to sources from Hamas and Islamic Jihad, another Palestinian armed group, both movements accepted an agreement whose details must be announced by Qatar and the mediators. Israel did not immediately react to these statements.
(You can read: How close is a ceasefire in Gaza after the UN Council resolution?)
The International Committee of the Red Cross assures that it is not participating in these talks, but its president, Mirjana Spoljaric, met on Monday in Qatar with Haniyeh to “advance humanitarian issues linked to the armed conflict in Israel and Gaza.”
In addition, the spokesman for the White House National Security Council, John Kirby, stated this Monday that “we have never been this close” to an agreement. “We are confident. But there is still work to do.”
Along the same lines, President Joe Biden expressed himself when asked if the agreement was close. “I think so,” he said, crossing his fingers.
According to two sources close to the negotiation, consulted by AFP, One of the points of disagreement is the release of military hostages.
Hamas opposes it, but Israel defends the concept of “family reunification”, That is, if a civilian is released, his family members must also be released, even if they are in the army.
(Continue reading: ‘Population in Gaza faces the immediate possibility of dying of hunger’: UN)
The fate of these hostages is a pressing issue for the Israeli government of Benjamin Netanyahu and his “war cabinet”, which met on Monday with relatives of the kidnapped people.
“Recovering our hostages is a sacred and supreme task and I am committed to it,” Netanyahu posted on the X social network after this meeting.
“We will not stop the fighting until we have returned our hostages to their homes, destroyed Hamas and ensured that there will be no more threats from Gaza,” he added.
*With AFP and EFE