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Israel-Hamas: Qatar mediates deal to free 50 hostages

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Qatar is trying to broker a deal between Hamas and Israel that would involve freeing around 50 civilians who are held hostage by the Palestinian militant group in Gaza, in exchange for a three-day ceasefire, according to a Qatari official.

According to Reuters, the deal, which is being coordinated with the U.S., would also include Israel releasing some Palestinian women and children from its prisons and allowing more humanitarian aid into Gaza, the official said.

This would be the largest release of hostages by Hamas since it launched a violent attack on Israel and Gaza in October, killing hundreds of people.

Hamas has accepted the main points of this deal, but Israel has not yet agreed and is still discussing the details, the official said.

It is unclear how many Palestinian women and children Israel would free from its jails as part of the proposed deal.

The role of Qatar in these negotiations has changed significantly in recent weeks, but it is not clear if this is the first time that such a deal has been discussed.

Qatar, which has ambitious foreign policy goals, has a direct line of communication with Hamas and Israel. It has helped mediate previous truces between them.

Such a deal would require Hamas to provide a complete list of all living civilian hostages in Gaza.

A more comprehensive release of all hostages is not currently on the table, the official said.

Israeli officials did not respond to requests for comment. They have previously avoided giving detailed information on the hostage negotiations, citing concerns about undermining diplomacy or fueling reports they deemed “psychological warfare” by Palestinian militants.

Taher Al-Nono, media adviser to Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh, did not directly confirm or deny the deal under discussion when asked by Reuters.

Netanyahu is stalling and is undermining any progress. He is exploiting the issue of the captives to continue the aggression. Netanyahu isn’t serious about reaching an agreement,” Nono said.

However, the Qatari Ministry of Foreign Affairs has declined to comment on the issue.

Qatar, where Hamas operates a political office, has been leading mediation efforts between Hamas and Israeli officials for more than 240 hostages. 

They were taken by Hamas militants when they stormed into Israel on Oct. 7. Israel says 1,200 people were killed during the attack.

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