February 25, 2024

Published from Mumbai, Delhi & Bhopal

Israeli PM hopeful of finalising hostage deal ‘soon’

Jerusalem : Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has expressed hope that a deal to free hostages held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip would be finalised “soon” and called for special cabinet meetings in response to “developments” related to the emerging deal.

“We are making progress,” Netanyahu said on Tuesday, addressing the Qatar-mediated efforts to sign a deal to free some of the hostages in exchange for the release of Palestinian prisoners and a multi-day temporary cease-fire.

“I hope there will be good news soon,” he added during a tour near the Israel-Lebanon border, Xinhua news agency reported.

Israel’s war cabinet met on Tuesday evening, followed by the convening of the security cabinet and government.

The Prime Minister’s office announced in a press statement that these special meetings are being called “in light of developments regarding the release of our hostages”.

As part of the regular procedure in Israel, any potential swap deal that includes the release of Palestinian prisoners needs to be brought for a vote in both the security cabinet and the government.

Earlier on Tuesday, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said the group’s officials are “close to reaching a truce agreement” with Israel and that Hamas has delivered its response to Qatar, according to a report by Israel’s state-owned Kan TV news.

According to Kan, the deal would include the release of about 50 civilian hostages held by Hamas in exchange for the release of female and teen Palestinian prisoners from Israeli prisons, as well as a several-day pause in fighting.

About 240 hostages, comprising civilians, soldiers, children, women and the elderly of various nationalities, were taken to Gaza by Hamas militants in their surprise raids on October 7. About 1,200 people were killed in the attack, mostly civilians. Since the massive offensive launched by Israel on the very same day, at least 13,000 have been killed in the Gaza Strip, primarily civilians, according to the government media office in the besieged enclave.

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