A temporary ceasefire in the Gaza Strip is purported to begin at 11 am on Monday, as per information shared by a Hamas official with Jordanian newspaper Al Ghad. However, Israeli officials deny such an agreement.
Notwithstanding official disavowals, the Israeli war Cabinet received a communication from Qatar revealing a new willingness on the part of Hamas to engage in a significant deal. Israel’s perspective is that, faced with the IDF’s refusal to withdraw from Al Shifa Hospital, Hamas felt compelled to continue negotiations.
According to Qatari intermediaries, Hamas proposed the release of 50 captives in the initial phase, coupled with a four-to-five-day cessation of hostilities. The conditions include releasing around 150 Palestinian women and children held in Israeli prisons and permitting the entry of fuel into Gaza. However, Hamas clarified its lack of knowledge about the whereabouts of all kidnapped individuals, intending to gather them during the early days of the truce, provided Israel refrains from airstrikes.
Hamas also expressed a willingness to increase the number of released hostages, contingent upon locating them in Gaza during the truce. Israeli negotiators suggest that an additional 20-25 hostages, added to the initial 50, could facilitate the release of all families, encompassing children, mothers, and elderly women. A political source emphasized the goal of making Hamas recognize the benefits of peace for releasing as many captives as possible, acknowledging that the war would likely resume after the pause.
Once Israel conveys its response to Qatar, negotiations between Qatar and Hamas will ensue to finalize agreements and details. Israeli officials anticipate that the required approval processes within the war Cabinet, the expanded Cabinet, and the full government – with sole authority over prisoner releases – could be concluded within 72 hours.