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Hamas and Israel ‘close’ to truce and prisoner exchange deal

November 21, 2023 at 11:06 am

Ismail Haniyeh in Doha, Qatar on October 15, 2023 [Iranian Foreign Ministry/Handout/Anadolu Agency]

The head of the Hamas political bureau announced this morning that the movement is “close” to a truce with the occupation state of Israel. “The movement has delivered its response to Qatar and the mediators, and we are close to reaching a truce agreement,” said Ismail Haniyeh on Telegram.

Qatar is leading mediation efforts to reach an agreement on a temporary ceasefire and for Hamas to release some of the hostages it captured during its unprecedented attack on southern Israel on 7 October. According to the mediators in Doha, reaching an agreement depended on resolving “simple” and “logistical” issues. US President Joe Biden announced yesterday that he believed an agreement for the release of hostages held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip was imminent.

“The deal includes a five-day truce for a comprehensive ceasefire and cessation of hostilities, and a complete cessation of Israeli aircraft flying over the Gaza Strip, with the exception of the northern region, where flights will be suspended for only six hours a day,” explained two sources familiar with the negotiations. They told AFP that the deal includes the release of between 50 and 100 hostages held in the Gaza Strip by Hamas and Islamic Jihad, including civilians and those with foreign citizenship who are not soldiers, in exchange for Israel’s release of 300 Palestinian women and child prisoners.

READ: 1.7m displaced in Gaza since Israel’s aggression

The release will apparently take place in stages, with ten Israeli captives released per day in exchange for 30 Palestinian prisoners.

The agreement is also said to include the entry of between 100 and 300 trucks of food and medical aid, including fuel, to all areas of the Gaza Strip, including the north of the enclave.

“Hamas and Islamic Jihad informed the Egyptian mediator of their initial agreement to the terms of the deal,” said the sources, “but there is still a possibility of the terms being changed. Israel insisted on keeping families together, meaning that if a woman is released, her husband should also be released, even if he is a soldier, which Hamas rejected, but Egypt and Qatar are currently working in coordination with the American administration to resolve this issue.”

Once this outstanding point is resolved, the truce will be announced. “It will last for five days and can be renewed,” the sources added.

On a related note, the International Committee of the Red Cross announced on Monday that its president travelled to Qatar to meet with Haniyeh “to discuss humanitarian issues related to the armed conflict in Israel and Gaza.”