Saturday, December 9, 2023

Hamas leader says they are “close to reaching a truce agreement” with Israel

Hamas is “close to reaching a truce deal” with Israel, the Palestinian group's political chief Ismail Haniyeh has said in a statement posted on Telegram.

Haniyeh’s statement comes after Hamas had delivered a response to mediators in Qatar.

“The movement delivered its response to the brothers in Qatar and the mediators, and we are close to reaching a truce agreement,” Haniyeh wrote.

Haniyeh did not provide additional details about the potential agreement.

The Hamas statement supports similar assertions from the White House. National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said Monday that negotiators are “getting close to the end” on the release of hostages held by Hamas – but he declined to elaborate on the details of a potential deal.

“I know that everybody’s interested in the numbers and who they’re going to be. We’re working that through literally in real time with both sides. So, I think it’s better if I just don’t speculate about what that pool is going to look like. Obviously, we are laser focused on the American citizens that we know are being held hostage, and we want them out, all of them, everybody should be out now,” Kirby added.

US President Joe Biden has also told reporters on Monday that he believed Israel and Hamas were close to brokering a deal to release captivates.

Hamas is believed to be holding at least 240 Israelis following a cross-border attack on Oct. 7. The Palestinian group has repeatedly announced it is ready to release the captives in return for thousands of Palestinians held in Israeli jails.

At least 13,000 Palestinians have been killed, including over 9,000 women and children, and more than 30,000 others injured in Israeli air and ground attacks since early October, according to the latest figures.

An Israeli blockade has also cut Gaza off from fuel, electricity and water supplies, and reduced aid deliveries to a small trickle.

The Israeli death toll, meanwhile, is around 1,200, according to official figures.

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