Netanyahu: Progress made on hostage deal as Cabinet convenes

Netanyahu: Progress made on hostage deal as Cabinet convenes

Families of those held hostage by Hamas terrorists in the Gaza Strip hold photos of their loved ones during a protest outside of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art on Oct. 21, 2023. Photo by Tomer Neuberg/Flash90.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is hoping there will soon be good news regarding a deal to secure the release of some hostages being held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip, he said on Tuesday.

“I don’t think it’s worth saying too much, not at even this moment, but I hope there will be good news soon. We are making progress,” the prime minister told soldiers of the 8101st Battalion of the Alexandroni Reserve Brigade serving near the border with Lebanon.

Shortly after his remarks, the Prime Minister’s Office announced that the War Cabinet would convene at 6 p.m. to discuss “developments regarding the release of our hostages,” followed by a meeting of the Political-Security Cabinet at 7 p.m. and the entire government one hour later.

The Foreign Ministry of Qatar, which has tried to act as a mediator with the Gaza terrorists, said on Tuesday that negotiations were “at the closest point we ever have been in reaching an agreement.”

“We are very optimistic, we are very hopeful, but we are also very keen for this mediation to succeed in reaching a humanitarian truce,” stated ministry spokesperson Majed Al Ansari.

U.S. President Joe Biden likewise told reporters at the White House on Tuesday that a deal is “very close.”

“There will be plenty of time to talk about the hostages,” said Biden, while declining to go into detail.

Hamas is holding some 240 Israelis hostages in Gaza, who were captured during the terror group’s Oct. 7 invasion of Israel.

According to a Channel 12 report on Tuesday, Israel and Hamas were “very close” to a hostage deal.

The report cited a senior Israeli official who said that while the sides have agreed to the outlines of an agreement, the parties were still hashing out various technical issues.

Channel 12 reported that the deal will see the release of 30 children, eight mothers and 12 women held by Hamas.

Collage of Kidnapped Children

A photo collage of the 40 Israeli children under the age of 18 being held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Source: X/Twitter.

‘Difficult, important decisions in the coming days’

The hostages would be released over the course of four days, with additional captives possibly being freed if the truce is extended. Hamas would guarantee that mothers are not separated from their children.

The first batch of hostages is expected to be released as early as Thursday, per Channel 12.

Israel has agreed to refrain from using surveillance drones in Gaza for six hours a day during the ceasefire, a demand Jerusalem previously refused, CNN reported on Tuesday.

The deal will also include the release of some 150 to 300 Palestinians jailed in Israel. The terrorists who will be released will reportedly be allowed return to their homes in eastern Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said on Tuesday that the government will need to make “difficult decisions” with regard to the hostages held by Hamas.

“We are moving step by step toward the total defeat of Hamas and getting closer to bringing the hostages home,” Gallant said following an assessment with military officials at the IDF Gaza Division base.

“I think we will all have to make difficult, important decisions in the coming days,” he added. “There is not a moment throughout this campaign—45 days—that I don’t think about the hostages.”

The Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday that Jerusalem is “meticulously” verifying the names on the list of Palestinian prisoners who could be released as part of the deal to ensure that none of them are connected to Hamas.

The Religious Zionism and Otzma Yehudit parties, which have a combined total of 13 seats in Israel’s 64-member coalition, said on Tuesday night they would vote against the deal.

In a statement to the press, the Religious Zionism party described the agreement as “bad for Israel’s security, bad for the hostages, and bad for the soldiers of the IDF.”

“The only way to return all the hostages is by continuing the unceasing military pressure on Hamas until total victory,” said the party headed by Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich.

The Otzma Yehudit Party noted that “Hamas’s agreement to the deal indicates that the IDF is carrying out an effective strike, it is necessary to continue striking the enemy and bring it to a deal under conditions dictated by Israel.”

The reported six-hour surveillance drone blackout “would endanger the ground forces fighting in Gaza and undermine the war effort,” added National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir’s party.

Source: JNS