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Hamas official says hostage deal with Israel likely ‘in coming hours’: Live updates




An agreement could be reached “in the coming hours” for Hamas to release some of the hostages seized from Israel in return for Israel releasing Palestinian prisoners, a senior Hamas official said Tuesday.

Officials in the U.S. and in Qatar, mediators in the talks, have been describing a deal as near for days. Hamas and Israeli officials had been less willing to issue hopeful statements, but multiple media outlets including CNN cited unnamed Israeli sources saying the deal could be announced as soon as Tuesday.

“This is a limited truce for a few days and not a total cease-fire,” the Hamas official, Izzat Rishq, told Al Jazeera TV. “Aid will be introduced to all areas of the Gaza Strip in exchange for the release of Israeli abductees, women and children, at the same time as the release of a limited number of Palestinian prisoners, women and children, from prisons in Israel.”

Ismail Haniyeh, the head of the Hamas politburo, issued a statement saying an agreement for a “truce” was near, The Times of Israel reported.

Qatari foreign ministry spokesperson Majed Al-Ansari said Tuesday that talks had reached a “critical and final stage.”

“We are at the closest point we ever had been in reaching an agreement,” he said.

National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said Monday that “we’re closer than we’ve ever been” to a deal, and President Joe Biden also said an agreement was near.

Militants crashing across the border from Gaza on Oct. 7 killed more than 1,200 Israelis and took 240 people back as hostages, Israeli authorities say. Four hostages have been released and one was freed by Israeli troops. Israel’s ensuing military campaign has killed more than 12,000 Palestinians, the Gaza Health Ministry says.


∎ The Israeli military said it had found militants hiding in three tunnel shafts in the area of Jabalia.During the battle,the division struck three tunnel shafts in the area of Jabalia, home to a densely populated refugee camp.

∎ The Israeli military published pictures of an anti-tank missile and other armaments found under a baby’s crib in Gaza.

A deal that would free hostages held by Hamas in Gaza in exchange for the release of Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli prisons could end in “disaster,” Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir said. Gvir cited a 2011 deal that saw Israel release more than 1,000 prisoners in exchange for Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier captured by Hamas in 2006. Among those released in the deal was Yahya Sinwar, thought to be a key mastermind of the Hamas rampage Oct. 7.

“We let out Sinwar and his friends and brought this trouble upon ourselves,” Gvir said.

Contributing: The Associated Press

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