Israel and Hamas appear close to finalizing a phased ceasefire agreement that would halt fighting in Gaza and lead to the release of two Israeli hostages held by Hamas. The deal comes after over 4 months of rising tensions and violence between the two sides.
Key Details of Proposed Deal
According to details leaked to media, the tentative deal would involve:
- An immediate 6-week ceasefire between Israel & Hamas
- Gradual release of 35 Israeli hostages held by Hamas
- Release would happen in 3 stages over the 6 weeks
- 5,000 Palestinian security prisoners to be freed by Israel
- Gaza border crossings opened for aid and construction supplies
Both sides have confirmed they are seriously considering the truce offer mediated by Egypt, Qatar, and the US. Hamas political chief Ismail Haniyeh said the group needs more time to study the proposal’s details before approving it. Meanwhile, Israeli PM Netanyahu convened his security cabinet to review the plan, which has reportedly faced opposition from hardline members of his coalition government.
Reasons for Progress in Negotiations
This latest diplomatic push comes after over 4 months of rising violence between Israel & Hamas-ruled Gaza. The casualties, economic damage, and risk of regional escalation have added urgency on both sides to halt fighting:
- Over 500 Israelis & 2,800 Palestinians killed since September
- Billions in economic losses for Israel & Gaza
- Spectre of Hezbollah, Iran intervention
In addition, Hamas is eager to rebuild Gaza and bolster its position among Palestinians after recent West Bank clashes weakened its rival Fatah. Israel aims to free all hostages before its elections in November.
Remaining Sticking Points
However, several issues could still derail an agreement:
- Netanyahu governing coalition opposes concessions to Hamas
- Fate of Israelis missing in Gaza & bodies held by Hamas
- Hamas demands Israel halt West Bank raids & release more prisoners
Likely Next Steps if Deal Reached
If implemented, the truce deal could dramatically reduce violence and free the Israeli hostages. But experts warn it may only amount to conflict management, not a long-term resolution between Israel & Hamas on underlying disputes. Key things to monitor:
- Will ceasefire hold for the 6 weeks?
- Will Israel fully lift Gaza blockade as Hamas demands?
- Can a more permanent Israel-Hamas deal be negotiated?
Quick Facts on Israel-Hamas Conflict
|Israelis killed since Sept 2023
|Palestinians killed in Gaza since Sept 2023
|Israeli hostages held by Hamas
|Hamas rockets fired at Israel since September 2023
Statements from Key Players
“We are hoping for Hamas to engage positively and constructively in the hostage deal talks,” – Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed Al Thani
“This ceasefire proposal seems more promising than previous ones,” – Hamas political official Khalil Al-Hayya
Background on Israel-Hamas Hostilities
Tensions between Israel & Hamas have simmered for over a decade since Hamas took control of Gaza in 2007. Israel holds Hamas responsible for rockets fired by Gaza militant groups and imposed a strict blockade on the territory. Hamas meanwhile demands an end to the Gaza closure and freedom for thousands of Palestinian prisoners.
Major flareups occurred in 2008, 2012, 2014, 2021 leading to thousands of casualties. The current crisis erupted in September 2023 when Israeli undercover forces in Gaza sparked clashes that left top Hamas commanders dead. Hamas unleashed waves of rocket attacks on Israel, while Israel has hit Gaza with airstrikes almost daily since September.
Over 35 Israelis are believed held hostage by Hamas in Gaza, while Hamas seeks freedom for around 5,000 Palestinians in Israeli prisons. With rising international pressure, both Israel and Hamas now appear to feel the costs of continued fighting outweigh the benefits. The tentative truce deal offers a narrow window to halt violence, address urgent humanitarian needs in Gaza, and possibly set the stage for more progress. But the decade-old feud between the bitter enemies will be extremely difficult to resolve.
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