Israel and Hamas are close to agreement on a U.S.-brokered deal that would free dozens of women and children held hostage in Gaza in exchange for a five-day pause in fighting, say people familiar with the emerging terms.
The release, which could begin within the next several days—barring last-minute hitches—could lead to the first sustained pause in conflict in Gaza.
A detailed, six-page set of written terms would require all parties to the conflict to freeze combat operations for at least five days while an initial 50 or more hostages are released in smaller batches every 24 hours. It was not immediately clear how many of the 239 people believed to be in captivity in Gaza would be released under the deal. Overhead surveillance would monitor movement on the ground to police the pause.
The stop in fighting is also intended to allow a significant increase in the amount of humanitarian assistance, including fuel, to enter the besieged enclave from Egypt.
“We’ve made some progress recently and have been working hard to advance this, but it remains a volatile situation,” an administration official said Saturday on condition of anonymity. After this article was initially published, National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson tweeted that there was “no deal yet but we continue to work hard to get a deal.”
A spokesperson for the Israeli Embassy in Washington said late Saturday that “we are not going to comment” on any aspect of the hostage situation.
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