Israel’s war against Hamas could be paused for two months should US negotiators reach a deal where dozens of hostages captured in the 7 October attack would be released, according to two senior administration officials.
The American officials, who wished to remain anonymous, said the terms of the deal in progress would play out in two phases.
In the first phase women, the elderly and wounded captives would be released by Hamas as fighting would pause.
During this hiatus, Israel and Hamas would have to figure out the second phase in order for Israeli soldiers and civilian men to be freed.
In total, more than 100 captives are expected to be liberated in the agreement.
The emerging deal also calls for Israel to allow more humanitarian aid into Gaza – as residents describe “huge suffering” due to a lack of food and one working water pipeline between Israel and the besieged strip, according to the UN’s agency for Palestine.
Image: Palestinians inspect the site of Israeli strikes on a mosque and houses, in Rafah. Pic: Reuters More than 1.9 million Gazans have been displaced since 7 October and a tent “city” of almost two square miles has been set up in Rafah, south of the strip.
No food or medical supplies are allowed to enter the territory, including sanitary products.
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While the proposed deal would not end the war, US officials are hopeful that such an agreement could offer a durable resolution to the conflict.
US President Joe Biden spoke to Qatar’s leader, and both “affirmed that a hostage deal [was] central to establishing a prolonged humanitarian pause in the fighting”, the White House said.
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Meanwhile, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is intent on destroying Hamas and vowed to continue military operations to achieve that goal.
In November, a week’s truce was established resulting in the exchange of some 100 hostages from both sides. Around 130 remain captive, but a number have since been confirmed dead.
Immediately after the truce expired, Israeli fighter jets were bombing Gaza, and Hamas fighters firing rockets into Israel.
Hamas has previously said it will free more captives only in exchange for an end to the war and the release of thousands of Palestinian prisoners.