“We are approaching the conclusion of a truce agreement”: this declaration by the leader of the Hamas terrorist movement, Ismaïl Haniyeh, Tuesday November 21, transmitted by his office to AFP, could announce the imminent release of Israeli hostages held in the Gaza Strip, and a pause in the fighting eagerly awaited by civilians and humanitarian organizations.
“[Le Hamas] delivered its response to the brothers of Qatar and to the mediators” (namely Egypt and the United States, who are trying to reach this agreement), continued the leader of the Islamist organization. For his part, the – White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby was also convinced about the ongoing negotiations: “We have never been closer, we are confident. […] But there is still work to do. Nothing is done until everything is done,” he said, being cautious. Qatar also confirmed that an agreement was very close. Negotiations have reached the “final phase,” he said. affirmed, Tuesday, November 21, at midday, a representative of the Gulf emirate.
Around fifty hostages releasable
According to several American media, the agreement could concern “the release of 50 hostages, including women and children”, indicates the New York Times, relying on Israeli sources. According to AFP, the transfer would be done in stages at the rate of “10 [otages contre] 30 Palestinian prisoners per day”. During the Hamas attacks on Israeli soil on October 7, around 240 hostages, including 33 children, were reportedly kidnapped along the border with Gaza from kibbutzim, military bases and a rave party. .
The captives could now be found in the tunnels dug and used by Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Four hostages have already been released: a mother and her daughter, with dual American and Israeli nationality, on October 20, and two Israelis, three days later. The terrorist movement claims that Israeli strikes also killed several of them.
Five-day humanitarian truce
According to Washington Post, the release of hostages would take place subject to a ceasefire. “All parties would freeze combat operations for at least five days, while around fifty or more hostages would be released in groups every twenty-four hours.” But Israel insists on “family reunification” meaning that, if a civilian was released, his partner would also be released, even if he is a soldier, which Hamas refuses for the moment, being opposed to the release of soldiers, according to these two sources.
“Aerial surveillance would check movements on the ground to monitor compliance with the truce,” the daily further specifies, according to sources from American officials. The agreement provides for “a cessation of flights by Israeli planes over the Gaza Strip, except over the north of the territory, where the planes will be able to fly for eighteen hours a day”, according to sources close to the matter.
The agreement would also include the entry into the Gaza Strip, including in the North, of 100 to 300 trucks of food and medical aid as well as fuel, several sources told AFP.
Israel, discreet about the talks
The Israeli government has not confirmed this information regarding the upcoming signing of a truce agreement. Monday evening, after a meeting between the families and his war cabinet, Benjamin Netanyahu declared on the social network “
Pressure on the Israeli government to sign a truce is growing as the number of civilian casualties on the Palestinian side mounts, and concerns about the captives grow. The IDF says it found the bodies of two of them near a hospital.
Since the resurgence of the conflict, 1,200 people, the vast majority civilians, have been killed in Israel, according to the authorities, in the attack carried out by Hamas commandos infiltrated from the Gaza Strip, of a scale and magnitude. violence unprecedented in the history of the country. In retaliation, Israel has sworn to “annihilate” Hamas, and has relentlessly shelled the Palestinian territory, where its army has been carrying out a ground offensive since October 27.