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HomeWorldCloser Than Before...: US On Israel, Hamas Hostage Deal Amid Gaza Offensive

Closer Than Before…: US On Israel, Hamas Hostage Deal Amid Gaza Offensive


New DelhiL: As the Israeli military’s deadly assault on Gaza City continued and rockets were being fired into Israel, there were signs of hope for a deal that would secure the release of some of the hostages held by Hamas in the Palestinian territory. U.S. President Joe Biden said on Monday he believed an accord was near. “We’re closer now than we’ve been before,” White House spokesman John Kirby said of a hostage agreement.

The Palestinian terrorist group Hamas took about 240 hostages during its Oct. 7 rampage into Israel that killed 1,200 people. Qatari mediators have been seeking a deal for Hamas and Israel to exchange 50 hostages in return for a three-day ceasefire that would boost emergency aid shipments to Gaza civilians, Reuters reported last week, citing an official briefed on the talks.

Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Herzog said on Sunday that he hoped for an agreement “in the coming days” while Qatar’s Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman al-Thani said that the remaining sticking points were “very minor”.

However, the White House and Israel denied a report by The Washington Post on Saturday that a deal had been agreed. “We really need to adhere to the mantra that nothing is agreed until everything is agreed,” White House deputy national security adviser Jon Finer told NBC’s “Meet the Press” program on Sunday.

Relatives of some of the people held by Hamas in Gaza urged far-right Israeli lawmakers on Monday not to pursue proposed capital punishment for captured Palestinian militants, saying that even talk of doing so might endanger the hostages.

Meanwhile, the humanitarian situation in Gaza worsened as Israeli forces shelled a hospital, killing at least 12 people, including patients, and putting 700 others at risk.

The Indonesian Hospital, funded by Jakarta, was hit by artillery rounds on Monday, the Palestinian news agency WAFA said. Hospital staff denied there were any armed militants on the premises.

World Health Organisation chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he was “appalled” by the attack that he too said had killed 12 people, citing unspecified reports.

The Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) said troops had fired back at fighters in the hospital while taking “numerous measures to minimise harm” to non-combatants.

Hamas said on its Telegram account on Monday that it had launched a barrage of missiles towards Tel Aviv. Witnesses also reported rockets being fired at central Israel.

Since Israel invaded the Palestinian territory to target Hamas on Oct. 7, the deadliest day in Israel’s 75-year-old history, Gaza’s Hamas-run government said at least 13,300 Palestinians have been killed, including at least 5,600 children and 3,550 women, by unrelenting Israeli bombardment .



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