The tentative deal struck between the U.S., Israel, and Hamas would provide a five-day pause in fighting while the hostages are freed, sources familiar with the situation told The Washington Post. A six-page agreement stipulates that at least 50 hostages would initially be freed followed by “smaller batches” every 24 hours, the report says.
At least 239 people remain captive in Gaza as fighting rages.
The deal is said to be the result of weeks of talks in Doha, Qatar, where Hamas was represented by Qatari mediators in discussions with Israel and the U.S. One source who spoke on the condition of anonymity told the Post it was “difficult” for Israel to agree to the detail, given dueling demands at home for the government to do whatever it takes to bring hostages home but also not to negotiate with terrorists.
A spokesperson for the U.S. National Security Council issued a statement late Saturday saying a deal had not yet been reached.
“We have not reached a deal yet, but we continue to work hard to get to a deal,” Adrienne Watson wrote.
As a grim reminder of the high stakes at play, Israel said this week that two hostages were found dead near the Al-Shifa hospital complex.
At a press conference on Saturday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stressed that “as of now there is no deal” to free hostages. Referring to a five-day march by hostages’ families that ended Saturday, Netanyahu said, “We are marching with you, I am marching with you, all of the people of Israel are marching with you.”
“We want to get back all the hostages. We’re doing the utmost to bring back the most possible, including in stages, and we are united on this,” he said.
Families of the hostages completed a march from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem to demand that the government take action to immediately bring the hostages home. The thousands-strong march culminated in a protest outside the prime minister’s office, where the mother of one hostage delivered a gut-wrenching speech.
“We’ve been walking for five days without stopping and my legs hurt and my shoulders and everything hurts, but nothing hurts like my heart does, which really, really hurts,” said Orin Ganz-Zach, the mother of 28-year-old hostage Eden Zacharia, according to the Times of Israel.
“Even if we need to walk to Gaza we will walk to Gaza,” she said. “Wherever we need to go we will go, we won’t give up on our children.”
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