A three-day ceasefire in Gaza is reportedly under discussion in exchange for the release of 12 to 15 prisoners held by the Gaza-based Palestinian resistance movement Hamas. Qatar is mediating the talks. About half of the prisoners on the potential release list are American.
A source told news agency AFP, “Discussions are underway on the release of prisoners of war mediated by Qatar.” Hamas is demanding a three-day ceasefire in exchange for 12 to 15 prisoners. However, the US may agree to a humanitarian pause of one to two days.
A source close to Hamas claimed six Americans were among those on the release list.
The three-day ceasefire is needed to allow hostages to be released and Egypt to arrange humanitarian aid, the source claimed.
However, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu insisted on Wednesday evening that there would be no ceasefire in Gaza without the release of prisoners. However, he did not say anything about the number of prisoners to be released. Moreover, it is not known whether he is giving any priority regarding their identity.
The United States and Israel are in favor of no ceasefire. The US is only talking about a humanitarian pause. They believe that a ceasefire will give Hamas a chance to reorganize itself.
Hamas holds about 240 prisoners. But according to Israeli estimates, Hamas currently holds about 180 prisoners. Islamic Jihad has about 40 prisoners. Apart from this, there are 20 more prisoners in the hands of some armed families. Israel believes that the talks are being complicated by the fact that it is held by multiple groups. Qatar has been conducting mediation talks mainly with Hamas leaders abroad.
US President Joe Biden tried to convince Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu of the need for a three-day humanitarian ceasefire during a telephone conversation on Monday, Walla news site reported. He said, they need this time to make a complete list of the prisoners in their hands.
But Netanyahu rejected the offer, saying Hamas could not be trusted. They may not release more prisoners. Moreover, once a cease-fire occurs, it will be difficult to start an attack again. Because then the international pressure will be too much.
Israel has been attacking Gaza since the Hamas attack inside Israel on October 7. More than 1400 people were killed in Israel by Hamas attack that day. Besides, about 245 people were brought as captives. So far, Hamas has released four people in two rounds.
On the other hand, almost 11 thousand people have been killed in Israel’s attack so far. Most of them are women and children.
No one moved from Gaza to Egypt: Hamas official
A Palestinian official said that no wounded Palestinians or dual nationals were evacuated to Egypt from the Gaza Strip through the Rafah border on Wednesday.
A Hamas official told the AFP news agency that the Rafah border was closed after Israel refused to approve the list of evacuations of the wounded.
The war began a month ago when Hamas fighters entered Israel, killing about 1,400 people and capturing 239, according to Israeli officials. Most of the dead were civilians.
The bombed-out Rafah Terminal, linked to Egypt, reopened on November 1 to evacuate foreigners and dual nationals trapped in the Gaza Strip enclave of Palestinian territory.
According to the Palestinian Red Crescent and the Hamas-controlled Palestinian Ministry of Health, the terminal was closed for two days after a brutal Israeli attack on a fleet of ambulances headed for the border.
The Israeli army said it targeted an ambulance used by a ‘Hamas military wing’.
An AFP journalist said on Wednesday he saw a large crowd at the Rafah crossing hoping to get to Egypt.
Mazen Danaf, a German passport holder, told AFP the situation in Gaza was “terrible”.
He said that there is nothing including electricity, water, fuel and hospitals are getting crowded with injured people.
Egypt said it would help evacuate about 7,000 foreigners through the crossing.
Sources: Al Jazeera, AFP, Times of Israel