Israel, the United States and Hamas are “close” to an agreement via Qatari intermediators that would free dozens of women and children hostages being held by terrorists in Gaza, in exchange for a five-day pause in fighting, the Washington Post reports.
The publication cites a “detailed, six-page agreement,” that says Israel and Hamas will freeze all hostilities for at least five days while an “initial 50 or more” of some 240 hostages taken from Israel during Hamas’s shock October 7 assault “are released in batches every 24 hours.”
The reported deal will also include a “significant increase in the amount of humanitarian assistance, including fuel” that will enter the Gaza Strip.
In response to the report, a spokesperson for the United States National Security Council said: “We have not reached a deal yet, but we continue to work hard to get to a deal.”
“We’ve made some progress recently and have been working hard to advance this, but it remains a volatile situation,” a Biden administration official is quoted as saying on condition of anonymity.
In its report, the Washington Post cites Arab and other diplomats who said the deal has been in the works during weeks of talks in Doha, Qatar, which is leading mediation efforts toward a ceasefire and release of the hostages.
The outline of the deal was reported earlier this week. On Saturday, Israel’s Channel 12 reported that Israel wants families — parents and children — to be released together, and has been insisting on that in the talks.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday dismissed “a lot of incorrect reports” in recent days about imminent agreements to free at least some of the hostages and said there was no deal yet “as of now.”
In his briefing Saturday, Netanyahu was asked if Israel had passed up a serious deal first reported on Wednesday for the release of some 50 hostages, and if he was insisting that all the hostages be released.
He responded that “there was no deal on the table” and he could not elaborate further.