Dozens of hostages being held by the militant group Hamas in Gaza may be freed under a possible deal struck with Israel, The Washington Post reported.
Citing an Arab diplomat familiar with the negotiations, the Post reported that Hamas has agreed in principle to release at least 50 women and children they took hostage during the initial Oct. 7 attack on Israel, which killed more than 1,200 people. The Hamas militants kidnapped about 240 people, including Americans and other foreign nationals, during the attack last month.
Since then, U.S., Israeli and other countries’ officials have pressed for the release of hostages. U.S. officials encouraged Israel to agree to humanitarian pauses to get the hostages out of Gaza and provide necessary aid, as some international organizations have warned that Israeli airstrikes could potentially endanger those being held by Hamas.
The United Nations Security Council passed a resolution Wednesday calling for the release of hostages held by Hamas and for urgent humanitarian pauses and corridors to be opened in Gaza.
According to the Post, the deal would require Israel to agree to a three-to-five-day pause “in place” in the fighting, as well as increased humanitarian aid to Gaza, which has been bombarded by Israel airstrikes since the war broke out. It also would call for the release of an unspecified number of women and children who are held in Israeli prisons.
Israel is considering the proposal, but it could easily fall apart, according to the diplomat who spoke to the Post. The diplomat told the newspaper that if the Israelis agree, “it’s going to happen quickly. If they reject it, then we’re at it again.”
President Biden spoke to Qatar’s leader, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani, on Sunday about ongoing efforts to increase humanitarian assistance in Gaza and to secure the release of all hostages. According to the White House, a 3-year-old American, whose parents were killed by Hamas on Oct. 7, is among the hostages.
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