Report: Hamas open to hostage release and ceasefire negotiations

According to a media report, the Palestinian militant organization Hamas has shown itself open to talks on the release of some Israeli hostages in the Gaza war.

Hamas has told mediators that it is prepared to talk about the release of female civilians and children in return for a “significant” ceasefire, the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday, citing Egyptian officials.

Hamas had released 105 hostages during a week-long ceasefire at the end of November last year. In return, Israel released 240 Palestinian prisoners from its jails.

Hamas had previously linked any further hostage releases to an end to the war. According to Israeli government sources, Hamas is still holding around 130 people they kidnapped from Israel to Gaza on October 7.

According to the Wall Street Journal, these include Israeli female soldiers. The Israeli government assumes that 105 hostages are still alive and that many of them are being held in Hamas’ underground tunnel network.

According to the US news portal Axios, Israel is said to have proposed a two-month ceasefire in return for the release of all hostages. The offer was reportedly presented to mediators from Egypt and Qatar, who are currently endeavouring to bridge the gap between the different demands.

While the latest development is positive, it does not mean that an agreement is imminent, the Wall Street Journal wrote. According to Egyptian officials, the talks could still fail.

Israel’s military attcks on the Gaza Strip began in retaliation for attacks carried out by militants from Hamas and other extremist groups in the south of the country on October 7 last year.

Israel says 1,200 people were killed in the attacks, including hundreds of soldiers. Israel responded with massive airstrikes and a ground offensive.

According to the Hamas-controlled health authority, more than 25,000 people have been killed so far. United Nations bodies regard the Gaza Health Authority’s figures as largely credible, though they cannot be independently verified.

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