In a recent development reported by Axios on Monday, Israel has presented a proposal to Hamas through Qatari and Egyptian intermediaries, suggesting a temporary halt in hostilities lasting up to two months. This proposition aims to facilitate a comprehensive deal for the release of all hostages currently held in Gaza.
According to the report, which relies on information from unnamed Israeli officials, the proposed deal is designed to unfold in multiple stages. The initial stage entails the release of specific groups, including women, men aged over 60, and individuals in critical medical conditions.
Subsequent phases of the proposed agreement involve the liberation of women soldiers, younger civilian men, male soldiers, and the retrieval of deceased hostages’ bodies. The officials outlined that the deal would also include the release of an undisclosed number of Palestinian prisoners held in Israel, though not the entire inmate population.
It is important to note that the proposed agreement does not include a commitment to end the ongoing conflict. However, it does outline a plan for Israeli forces to diminish their presence in major Gaza cities gradually, allowing residents to return to the severely affected northern territories.
The officials involved in the negotiations anticipate that the implementation of this proposal will span approximately two months. Despite these details, Qatar, a key player in the negotiations alongside the US and Egypt, expressed skepticism and pushed back against the reports on Tuesday. Foreign ministry spokesman Majed Al Ansari refrained from commenting on specific negotiation points but emphasized that talks were ongoing with “full force.” He dismissed the leaked information to the media as either “missing elements or completely false.”
Meanwhile, reports indicate that Brett McGurk, the White House’s Middle East coordinator, is set to visit the region for meetings in Egypt and Qatar with the aim of securing a new hostage exchange deal. The backdrop for these negotiations is the abduction of around 250 hostages during Hamas’s violent attacks on October 7. Israel reports that approximately 132 hostages remain in Gaza, including at least 28 deceased individuals based on Israeli data compiled by AFP.
The October 7 attacks resulted in the loss of about 1,140 lives in Israel, predominantly civilians, according to AFP’s tally based on official Israeli figures. In response, Israel initiated a relentless offensive, resulting in the death of at least 25,490 individuals in Gaza, with the majority being women and children, as reported by Hamas-run Gaza’s health ministry.