Hamas has reportedly agreed to a deal that would see the release 50 hostages being held in Gaza in exchange for a three-day pause in fighting, according to a Wednesday report.
Reuters’ report, which cited an unnamed Qatari official, was the latest in a series of accounts in recent weeks suggesting that a large hostage deal is imminent. According to those reports, Israel would release a number of Palestinian women and minors currently jailed and boost humanitarian aid entering Gaza in exchange for the hostages.
There was no immediate comment from Israel. Military and governmental officials have repeatedly dismissed rumors over pending hostage deals, saying that if there is something to report, they will update the public.
Some analysts speculate that the leaks may be driven by mediators’ desire to demonstrate their ongoing efforts to the public, in addition to hoping that promoting anticipation of a potential deal may help drive it forward. Others note that Hamas claims of a potential deal are part of its psychological warfare against Israel and the hostages’ families.
Reuters reported Wednesday that Hamas has agreed to the proposal, but Israel has not, and is still trying to negotiate the details.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday that information about any deal for the release of hostages held by Hamas in Gaza will be made public “if and when” there are concrete developments, appearing to downplay earlier remarks by US President Joe Biden, saying he believed a hostage deal would happen soon.
Meeting reservist troops on Wednesday, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said the military will carry out “any action” to rescue the roughly 240 hostages being held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
He claimed that “only” military pressure on the terror group could lead it to release the hostages.
“When you start acting with force, you suddenly have something to give them, and what you can give them is a short period of quiet, and when you give them a short period of quiet, they are willing to pay for it,” he added.
No hostages have been released since the IDF began its ground incursion on October 27, but four were released several days earlier.
Several media outlets reported Tuesday that the head of the Shin Bet security service, Ronen Bar, had traveled to Cairo and met Egypt’s Intelligence Minister Abbas Kamel to discuss the emerging deal to free some of the hostages.
Additionally, the American ABC network cited an unnamed senior Israeli political source saying Tuesday that progress had been made and a “breakthrough could come in the next 48-72 hours.”
Netanyahu, in a statement issued by his office, expressed support for the hostages and their relatives, emphasizing efforts to free the captives.
“Our hearts are with all the hostages and their families,” he said in a statement. “Since the beginning of the war, we have been working ceaselessly for the release of our captives, including the exertion of increasing pressure since the beginning of the ground operation,” he added.
Reporter: "Can you address the hostages directly and give them a message of hope…?"
Biden: "Yes I can, I've been talking with the people involved every single day" pic.twitter.com/Na0I4SWHtL
— The Post Millennial (@TPostMillennial) November 14, 2023
Hamas-led terrorists took the hostages during their devastating October 7 attack on Israel, in which they killed over 1,200 people, mostly civilians butchered in their homes and at a music festival. Israel then declared war with the aim of toppling the terror group’s regime in Gaza, which it has ruled since taking over in 2007.
White House Middle East czar Brett McGurk arrived in Brussels on Tuesday, kicking off a regional tour in which he was expected to discuss efforts to release the hostages.