In a significant development, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh announced on Tuesday (21 November) that his movement is on the verge of reaching a truce agreement with Israel.
The statement, posted on Telegram, revealed that negotiators are working towards finalising a deal that could lead to the release of approximately 240 hostages, predominantly Israeli citizens, who were seized during the deadliest assault on Israel in its history on 7 October.
As reported by NDTV, Haniyeh stated, "We are close to reaching a deal on a truce."
The negotiations aim to secure the release of hostages and establish a temporary ceasefire, with Qatar playing a mediating role in the intense talks.
The conflict escalated when Hamas fighters killed around 1,200 people, mostly civilians, in a cross-border assault.
In response, Israel launched a relentless bombing campaign and a ground offensive, vowing to dismantle Hamas and secure the release of the hostages.
As negotiations unfold, Qatar's Prime Minister indicated on Sunday (19 November) that the deal's progress hinges on "minor" practical issues.
US President Joe Biden also expressed optimism on Monday (20 November), stating, "I believe so," when asked about the proximity of a hostage deal.
In return for the truce, between 50 and 100 prisoners, held by both Hamas and Islamic Jihad, may be released, including Israeli civilians and captives of other nationalities.
Notably, no military personnel are expected to be part of the release.
Additionally, around 300 Palestinians, including women and children, could be released from Israeli jails under the proposed agreement.
The White House acknowledged that negotiations are in the "endgame" stage, but refrained from providing further details to safeguard the potential success of the outcome.
Separately, the International Committee of the Red Cross disclosed that its president traveled to Qatar to meet with Hamas's Haniyeh, aiming to address humanitarian issues related to the conflict in Israel and Gaza.
The organisation reiterated its call for the immediate release of hostages and urged urgent measures to alleviate the catastrophic humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip.
Nayan Dwivedi is Staff Writer at Swarajya.
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