NOS News•today, 09:24
Signals are mounting about an impending agreement on the release of a group of hostages in Gaza. Family members are said to have been informed of major progress in the negotiation process. The parties involved also openly express that they are hopeful about a deal in the coming days.
There are varying reports about what conditions Israel and Hamas impose on each other. Some sources speak of a temporary ceasefire, but this is not officially confirmed. It is also unclear how many hostages will soon regain their freedom. There is talk of dozens.
Israeli ministers meet
Israel’s UN ambassador said yesterday he was confident that “a significant” number of hostages would be released in the coming days. Last night, Prime Minister Netanyahu met with a group of ministers at the army headquarters in Tel Aviv, Israeli media write. Presumably a deal was discussed at this meeting.
Hamas has taken an estimated 240 Israelis and people of other nationalities hostage. As far as we know, four have been released by the terrorist organization. The Israeli army has freed one hostage person. Two kidnapped people are dead; their bodies were found by Israeli soldiers.
An interest group has informed relatives of kidnapped persons about the progress of the negotiations. The so-called Family Forum for Hostages and Missing said that an agreement may take several days, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported last night.
Qatar: still very small challenges
“The challenges to reaching an agreement are only practical and logistical,” Qatar Prime Minister Thani said yesterday. The Gulf state plays an important role as a mediator between Israel and Hamas. According to Thani, some “very minor” challenges remain in the negotiations.
Reuters reported last week that efforts were underway to release about fifty hostages. A three-day ceasefire has also been proposed.
A few days later, The Washington Post reported that several dozen hostage women and children would be released. The American newspaper spoke of an impending agreement on a five-day ceasefire. During these lulls in fighting, the civilians would be handed over to Israel.
It is expected that dozens of Palestinian prisoners will be exchanged for people kidnapped by Hamas. But the information on this subject is still vague.