Israel, the United States and Hamas will take dozens of women and children held hostage in Gaza in exchange for a five-day cessation of fighting, The Washington Post reported, citing people familiar with the deal. It was reported that a tentative agreement had been reached to release him.
But both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. officials said no deal had yet been reached.
The newspaper reported on Saturday that hostage release could begin within days barring any last-minute hiccups, according to people familiar with the detailed six-page agreement.
The report comes as Israel expands its offensive against Hamas militants into southern Gaza after airstrikes killed dozens of Palestinians, including civilians reportedly sheltering in two schools. It was held while preparations were apparently being made.
Under the agreement, all parties will freeze combat operations for at least five days, and more than 50 hostages will be released en masse every 24 hours, the newspaper reported. Hamas rampaged through Israel on October 7, killing 1,200 people and taking about 240 people hostage.
The paper added that the moratorium is also aimed at allowing large-scale humanitarian aid to arrive, and the outline of the agreement was finalized during weeks of talks in Qatar.
But Prime Minister Netanyahu said at a press conference on Saturday night: “There are many unsubstantiated rumors and false reports regarding the hostages. I want to be clear that there is no agreement at this time. But I want to promise you that There is something I would like to say, so I will report on it. ”
A White House spokesperson also said that Israel and Hamas have not yet reached an agreement on a temporary ceasefire, adding that the United States is continuing to work towards an agreement. Another U.S. official also said no agreement had been reached.
Hospital “Death Zone”
Israel vowed to destroy Hamas after the October 7 attack. As the conflict enters its seventh week, authorities in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip have raised the death toll to 12,300, including 5,000 children.
After distributing leaflets earlier in the week, Israel on Saturday again warned civilians in some areas of southern Gaza to relocate in preparation for an onslaught after taking control of northern Gaza.
Alarmed by international alarm, Israel made Gaza City’s al-Shifa Hospital the main focus of its ground advance into northern Gaza.
A World Health Organization (WHO)-led team that visited al-Shifa on Saturday described it as a “death zone” with traces of gunfire and shelling. WHO said it was developing plans to immediately evacuate remaining patients and staff.
Elsewhere in the north, Philippe Lazzarini, secretary-general of UNRWA, the UN aid agency for Palestinian refugees, said on social media platform X that Israel had shelled two government schools. More than 4,000 civilians were protected in one of them, he said.
“Dozens of people, including children, are reported to have died,” he said. “A second attack within 24 hours and the school cannot be saved. Enough is enough and this horror must stop.”
A spokesman for Hamas authorities in the Gaza Strip said 200 people were killed or injured at the school. The Israeli military did not comment.
Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, whose government controls parts of the Israeli-occupied West Bank, said on Saturday that “hundreds of forcibly displaced people were killed” at two schools in the Gaza Strip.
Mr Abbas on Saturday appealed to US President Joe Biden to intervene to stop Israeli operations in Gaza.
Mr. Biden, who opposes the ceasefire, sought to end the conflict by saying in an op-ed in the Washington Post that the Palestinian Authority should ultimately govern both Gaza and the West Bank.
Asked about Biden’s proposal, Netanyahu told reporters in Tel Aviv that the Palestinian Authority, in its current form, cannot be held accountable for Gaza. Israel has not disclosed its postwar Gaza strategy.
Israeli military offensives in the south could resettle hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who have fled Gaza City in the north, along with residents of Khan Yunis, a city of more than 400,000 people, potentially exacerbating the dire humanitarian crisis. There is.
The conflict has already displaced about two-thirds of Gaza’s 2.3 million people.
But an advance into southern Gaza could prove more complicated and dangerous than in the north, as Hamas militants have infiltrated the Khan Yunis area, two Israeli and former senior officials said.
An airstrike in downtown Khan Yunis early Saturday morning killed 26 Palestinians and injured 23 others, health officials said.
Eyad al-Zayem told Reuters he lost his aunt, her children and grandchildren in the attack. He said they had all been evacuated from northern Gaza on orders from the Israeli military and all they wanted to do was die in a place the military told them was safe.
“All of them were martyred. They had nothing to do with the[Hamas]resistance movement,” he said at the Nasser Hospital morgue, where 26 bodies were placed before being taken for burial by their loved ones. Zaeem said as he stood outside.
(Writing by Nidal Al-Mughrabi, James Mackenzie Henriette Chakar, Reuters correspondent, Doina Chiak and Kim Coghill; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and William Mallard)