Ismail Haniyeh, the leader of Hamas, stated on Tuesday that the Palestinian militant group is on the verge of reaching a truce agreement with Israel. Despite the ongoing deadly assault on Gaza and rocket launches into Israel, Haniyeh conveyed that Hamas has responded to Qatari mediators, bringing the two parties close to a potential agreement. However, specific details about the terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
U.S. President Joe Biden expressed optimism on Monday, believing that an accord is within reach. White House spokesman John Kirby noted that negotiations aim to secure the release of hostages held in Gaza and implement a temporary ceasefire, allowing essential aid into the besieged enclave. The “International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)” President, Mirjana Spoljaric, met with Haniyeh in Qatar to address humanitarian issues related to the conflict. The ICRC clarified that it is not directly involved in hostage negotiations but is prepared to facilitate any future releases agreed upon by the involved parties.
Talks of an imminent hostage deal have circulated for days, with Qatari mediators reportedly seeking an exchange of 50 hostages between Hamas and Israel for a three-day ceasefire. This ceasefire would facilitate increased emergency aid shipments to Gaza civilians. Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Herzog expressed hope for an agreement in the coming days, while Qatar’s Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman al-Thani mentioned that the remaining sticking points were “very minor.”
However, caution prevails, with White House deputy national security adviser Jon Finer emphasising that sensitive negotiations can falter at the last minute. The deadly assault on October 7 prompted Israel to invade Gaza, resulting in extensive casualties. The conflict continues, with Hamas reporting missile launches towards Tel Aviv and reports of Israeli bombing causing casualties in central Gaza. Health facilities, including the Indonesian Hospital, have been impacted, leading to condemnation from the World Health Organization. The situation remains fluid, and negotiations continue amidst ongoing hostilities.