Sunday, February 25, 2024

Israel to pause Gaza war for 2 months to release captives in potential agreement: Report

US negotiators are “making progress” on a potential deal that would see Israel halt its war in the besieged Gaza Strip for two months in exchange for the release of more than 100 hostages held by Hamas, the Associated Press has reported, citing two senior White House officials.

Although the proposed deal would not end the war outright, US officials hope the agreement can lay the groundwork for a resolution to the conflict, the AP said.

The report broadly confirms an earlier New York Times report that said US negotiators are “edging closer” to a deal to halt the war for about two months in exchange for the release of captives.

The daily had reported US-led negotiators are nearing a deal that would see Israel halt the war in Gaza for about two months in exchange for the release of more than 100 captives held by Hamas,

Negotiators have worked out a draft agreement merging proposals by Israel and Hamas that will be subject to talks in Paris on Sunday, the newspaper reported on Saturday.

Despite significant disagreements between the sides, negotiators are “cautiously optimistic” that a deal is within reach, the Times added.

The Times report cites unnamed US officials who requested anonymity to discuss sensitive discussions.

On Dec. 1 last year, a temporary pause between Hamas and Israel mediated by Qatar, Egypt and the US ended after seven days, during which prisoners were exchanged and limited humanitarian aid was allowed into the territory, home to about 2.3 million Palestinians.

Israel estimates that there are approximately 136 hostages still held in the Gaza Strip, according to media reports and statements from Israeli officials.

Since Oct. 7 last year, the Israeli army has been conducting a destructive war in the Gaza Strip resulting in 26,500 deaths and more than 64,000 injuries, most of them women and children, say Palestinian authorities, and causing massive destruction and an unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe, according to the United Nations.

Israel has estimated Hamas casualties at 10,000 killed and 16,000 wounded, while the recently published US estimates were somewhat lower.

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