Hamas Chief Announces Progress in Truce Talks with Israel Amid Ongoing Conflict

Hamas Chief Announces Progress in Truce Talks with Israel Amid Ongoing Conflict

GAZA/JERUSALEM - Ismail Haniyeh, the chief of Hamas, revealed to media on Tuesday that the Palestinian militant group is on the verge of a truce agreement with Israel, despite the continued violence in Gaza and rocket attacks into Israel.

Haniyeh conveyed that Hamas officials are "close to reaching a truce agreement" and have responded to Qatari mediators. While specific details were not provided, a Hamas official informed Al Jazeera that negotiations focus on the duration of the truce, aid delivery to Gaza, and the exchange of Israeli hostages held by Hamas for Palestinian prisoners in Israel.

The proposed deal involves the release of women and children by both sides, with Qatar expected to announce further details. The announcement follows the October 7 raid by Hamas into Israel, during which approximately 240 hostages were taken.

Mirjana Spoljaric, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), met with Haniyeh in Qatar to address humanitarian issues related to the conflict. The ICRC clarified that it is not directly involved in hostage negotiations but is prepared to facilitate any future releases agreed upon by the parties.

Speculation about an imminent hostage deal has circulated for days, with reports suggesting a potential exchange of 50 hostages for a three-day ceasefire to boost emergency aid shipments to Gaza civilians.

While U.S. President Joe Biden and other officials expressed optimism on Monday, caution was urged by White House deputy national security adviser Jon Finer, who emphasized that "nothing is agreed until everything is agreed."

The deadliest day in Israel's history prompted the invasion of the Palestinian territory by Israel to target Hamas. Since then, Gaza's Hamas-run government reports over 13,300 Palestinians killed by Israeli bombardment.

On Monday, Hamas claimed to launch missiles towards Tel Aviv, while reports indicated rocket fire at central Israel. Recent Israeli bombing in central Gaza reportedly led to at least 17 Palestinian casualties.

Amid the ongoing conflict, concerns are rising over the impact on hospitals. The Indonesian Hospital complex in Gaza, encircled by Israeli tanks, faced Israeli fire, with the World Health Organization expressing shock at the reported 12 casualties, including patients. The Israeli Defense Forces asserted firing back at fighters in the hospital while taking measures to minimize harm to non-combatants.

As the situation unfolds, international efforts continue to broker a truce and address the humanitarian crisis in the region.

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