As the Israel-Hamas war reached its 46th day, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, who is the head of the militant group’s politburo, said that it is close to a ‘truce’ agreement with Israel which will likely involve the release of some of the hostages.
Although he did not elaborate, Haniyeh on his Telegram channel said that Hamas gave its response to Qatari and other mediators over negotiations for a truce, reported The Times of Israel.
Prior to this, US President Joe Biden indicated progress in the deal between Israel and Hamas to temporarily halt the devastating offensive in Gaza in exchange for the release of some 50 hostages captured by the group during their brutal attack on October 7.
Additionally, White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby also indicated a positive development in ceasefire negotiations, saying, “We’re closer now than we’ve been before”.
This comes after Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, already under pressure over the captives, met with the families of nearly 240 hostages along with his Cabinet members in Tel Aviv.
Several family members left in the middle of the meeting, fuming over what they said were mixed messages the government has given them regarding the goals of the war. According to one family member, Netanyahu asserted the destruction of Hamas as being equally important with the release of hostages, which infuriated their families.
Netanyahu earlier rejected reports of ceasefire
Earlier, Netanyahu has said that the deal to secure the release of hostages held by Hamas has not been made with the terror group “as of now” and dismissed “a lot of incorrect reports”– a wide claim made in media after a statement by the Biden official.
We are marching with you, I am marching with you, all of the people of Israel are marching with you,” he said, referring to the five-day march that families of the hostages undertook from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem last week.
The Israeli PM responded that “there was no deal on the table” and he could not elaborate further. “We want to get back all the hostages,” he said. “We’re doing the utmost to bring back the most possible, including in stages, and we are united on this.” “We obviously want to bring [home] whole families together,” he added later.
Hostages captured by Hamas
It is worth mentioning Hamas seized about 240 hostages on October 7 when they surged across Gaza’s militarised border into southern Israel to kill around 1,200 people, mostly civilians who were massacred at their homes and fleeing a music festival amid brutal atrocities.
The hostages are of all ages and include young children and elderly people as well as Thai and Nepali nationals. It reported that The Washington Post reported Saturday that Israel, the United States and Hamas were “close” to an agreement that would free dozens of women and children held hostage in Gaza in exchange for a five-day pause in hostilities.
The ongoing war has wreaked havoc on Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, with more than 13,000 people killed after Israel retaliated for the October 7 attack that claimed the lives of 1,200 people in the Jewish state. Hamas has so far released four hostages, Israel has rescued one, and the bodies of two were found near Shifa.
India’s stance on Israel-Hamas war
Meanwhile, India on Monday welcomed efforts for humanitarian pauses in the Israel-Hamas conflict as well as efforts by the international community aimed at de-escalation and delivery of urgent humanitarian assistance to the people of Palestine.
“We are firmly opposed to terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, clearly against violence and are on the side of adherence to international humanitarian law and ensuring that further escalation is prevented, Humanitarian aid delivery continues, all hostages are released unconditionally and all parties work towards an early restoration of peace and stability,” said India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Ruchira Kamboj.