The U.S., Israel and Hamas are nearing a tentative deal that could result in the freeing of dozens of hostages held in Gaza, sources told The Washington Post on Saturday.
Under this U.S.-brokered agreement, Israel and Hamas will be expected to freeze all combat operations for five days while about 50 hostages are released every 24 hours. There is believed to be a total of about 239 hostages being held in Gaza, according to the Post. The pause, which would be monitored by overhead surveillance, would also assist in allowing humanitarian aid to enter.
An outline of the deal was drafted in Doha, Qatar, in recent weeks by Qatari mediators representing the three involved parties in conflict, The Washington Post reported.
The hostages could start being released in the next several days, pending the closing of the agreement. The possibility of Israel agreeing to the pause remained unclear in recent weeks.
A White House spokesperson said a deal has not yet been reached, but is still working toward one.
“We have not reached a deal yet, but we continue to work hard to get to a deal,” Adrienne Watson, spokesperson for the White House’s National Security Council, posted on X.
On Oct. 7, the Gaza-based militant group launched a surprise attack on Israel. In retaliation, Israel launched air strike attacks on the territory and declared war. For over a month, Israel has continued to strike at Gaza with the hopes of eliminating Hamas, which has since taken several Israeli hostages.
Last week, an estimated 20,000 people, including families of Israeli hostages and their supporters, marched for five days to Jerusalem to put pressure on the Israeli government to take action to bring the hostages back, Reuters reported.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has pushed back on the increasing pressure — including from the U.S. — to pause the fighting, affirming that Israel would continue “going with full steam ahead” unless their hostages were released.
A U.S. official said earlier this month that a “fairly significant pause” would be needed to retrieve hostages, similar to the small-scale pause that was done in October that allowed for the release of two American hostages held by Hamas.
President Joe Biden has not called for a ceasefire to the war, but said earlier this month that a “humanitarian pause” was needed to get hostages and to address the crisis in Gaza, especially as the Palestinian death toll surpasses 11,000 and is continuing to rise, CNN reported.