US and Israeli officials have announced that the agreement to release hostages held by Hamas is nearing completion. Israel’s Ambassador to the United States, Michael Herzog, mentioned on the “This Week” program that his country is hopeful significant number of hostages will be released by Hamas “in the coming days.” According to reports, a White House official stated that progress is being made in the negotiations which he described as extremely “complex and sensitive.”
The statement by Qatar also seems to be optimistic, since the country is reportedly mediating negotiations. Qatar’s Prime Minister, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani, told a press conference in Doha that the obstacles to a deal were now “very small” and only “practical and logistical” issues remained.
In their report, the Washington Post claims that an agreement was reached that would stop the clashes for five days and release dozens of women and children hostages. However, these claims were denied by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US officials, who clarified that efforts were continuing to reach an agreement.
This hostage crisis stemmed from Hamas’ attack on October 7, in which approximately 1,200 people, consisting mostly of civilians, were killed and around 240 people were taken hostage. Following this, more than 13,000 Palestinians, mostly civilians and children, were killed in Israel’s attacks on Hamas-controlled Gaza.
Israel’s army released footage that allegedly showed two hostages being brought to Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza on the day Hamas carried out the October 7 attack. However, both Hamas and health workers in Gaza deny the claim that there is a headquarters under the hospital.
In the meantime, the French President Emmanuel Macron, who met Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, reminded about the need to distinguish between terrorists and the public and expressed his discomfort with the increase in violence against Palestinian civilians in the West Bank.
In an attempt to resolve the crisis, China’s Foreign Minister called on the international community to take urgent action to stop the “humanitarian disaster” in Gaza.
In sum, ongoing negotiations between US, Israeli, and Qatari officials could lead to a resolution in the crisis, while the international community expresses concerns over the escalating violence and hostage situations.