Israel and Hamas Negotiate Hostage Deal
Over the weekend, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said there was a deal being negotiated with Hamas that would lead to the release of all captives kidnapped on October 7 during the terror group’s deadly attack. Netanyahu’s announcement comes amid rumours that Israel is willing to release Palestinian prisoners in exchange for hostages.
A US official who spoke to NBC News after the Prime Minister’s statement said the hostage deal being discussed would see the initial release of 90 women and children. The remaining captives would be freed in phases. However, the official said the deal wasn’t a sure thing, so Joe Biden’s administration was still exploring other options for hostage release.
Hamas fighters took 240 people hostage early last month after killing over 1,200. Since then, the terrorists have only released four captives, and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) rescued one female soldier captured by Hamas.
“I will not Dive Deeper into the Hostage Deal,” Netanyahu Says
Netanyahu has said he won’t be giving more details about the hostage deal, arguing that the less he talks about it, the higher the chances of the deal materializing. He also believes that the ongoing ground offensive in Gaza has put pressure on Hamas to consider negotiating a hostage deal with Israel.
Netanyahu says before the IDF ground operations in Gaza, Hamas was making unrealistic demands for the release of captives, but that changed when Israel launched a ground offensive. Qatar remains the mediator of the hostage negotiations.
Hamas Suspends Hostage Negotiations
On Sunday, however, a Palestinian official told Reuters that Hamas temporarily suspended the deal discussions due to the Israel Defense Forces’ operation near Shifa Hospital. The Israeli army engaged with Hamas terrorists near the healthcare facility for the better part of the weekend. The IDF is convinced that the terror group’s main command centre is under Shifa.
Gaza’s Health Ministry says thousands of people, including patients and medical staff, are trapped inside Shifa with no electricity. Yesterday, however, the IDF supplied the hospital with fuel to run the generators. Moreover, the security agency told the people inside the facility to leave from the eastern side of the hospital as there was no fight happening there.