Israel-Hamas ceasefire deal finalised? Netanyahu denies claim

Israel-Hamas ceasefire deal finalised? Netanyahu denies claim

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  • November 19, 2023
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Israel-Hamas war: Reports emerged on Sunday claiming that Hamas fighters from Palestine’s Gaza, Benjamin Netanyahu from Israel, the United States have been able to successfully broker a ceasefire deal – a five-day pause in the ongoing fighting to release 50 or more hostages. 

The repot published by The Washington Post was vehemently denied by both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US officials. The hostage release could begin within the next several days, barring last-minute hitches, according to people familiar with the detailed, six-page agreement, the paper said on Saturday.

The debated mention of the ceasefire agreement comes even as Israel seemingly increases their aggressiveness in the ground offensive against Hamas militants to southern Gaza after air strikes killed dozens of Palestinians, including civilians reported to be sheltering at two schools.

Israel said it was entering the “next stage” of the six-week-old war against Hamas as focus shifted to the south of the besieged Gaza Strip. Separately, Israeli paratroopers raided what were called the homes of senior Hamas officials in northern Gaza.

How many hostages did Hamas take?

It was earlier reported that close to 240 people were taken hostage by Hamas following the October 7 surprise attack on Israel. It is not clear how many of these hostages would be released as part of the US-brokered deal.

What did US say?

A White House spokesperson dismissed reports of Israel and Hamas agreeing to a temporary ceasefire deal. “No deal yet but we continue to work hard to get a deal,” Adrienne Watson, spokesperson for the White House’s National Security Council, said in a statement, reported Reuters.

A second official also confirmed no deal had been reached.

What is the ceasefire deal?

According to the Washington Post report, the ground movement would be monitored by overhead surveillance, which would help police with the five-day pause.

The temporary stopping of the ongoing operation in Gaza is also intended to allow a significant amount of humanitarian aid, including fuel, to enter the enclave from Egypt.

The release of hostages and the five-day pause in the operation in Gaza could begin in the next few days. However, a spokesperson for the Israeli Embassy in Washington refused to comment on the hostage situation and the reported deal.

The deal was put together among Israel, the US and Hamas, during a round of talks in Doha, and was led by Qatari mediators, the Washington Post reported.

The development comes not so long after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denied passing up on a serious deal for the release of 50 hostages.

He said there was “no deal on the table” and that the release of hostages is a “priority”.

“We want to get back all the hostages. We’re doing the utmost to bring back the most possible, including in stages, and we are united on this,” the Times of Israel quoted Netanyahu as saying.

Qatar says ‘just logistical’ factors blocking ceasefire deal

Qatahas been significant in trying to broker a ceasefire deal between Israel and Hamas fighters since the war inflated after 7 October. However, following Washington Post’s report, Qatar’s prime minister said the main sticking points blocking a deal for the release of dozens of hostages taken by Palestinian group Hamas in their Oct. 7 attack on Israel were now “very minor” and mainly practical and logistical issues.

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Updated: 19 Nov 2023, 05:20 PM IST

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