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Israel ready to release over 700 Palestinians – media

The inmates could be exchanged for 40 Israeli hostages held by Hamas, reports say

Israel has agreed to release between 700 and 800 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for 40 hostages still held by Hamas, Israeli media reported on Sunday, citing officials familiar with the matter. If successful, the swap would be part of a potential US-brokered ceasefire deal aimed at suspending the fighting between Israel and Hamas, which has entered its fifth month.

According to Channel 12 and news website Walla, the group of prisoners Israel is willing to release includes 100 inmates convicted of murder. An unnamed Israeli official, who spoke to the Times of Israel, was more cautious, saying “Right now, we’re feeling 50/50 about the chances for a deal.”

Israel is also reportedly ready to discuss permitting Palestinian refugees to return to the northern part of the Gaza Strip.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu previously rejected a proposal by Hamas for a truce and prisoner swap, insisting that the Israel Defense Forces are still determined to completely eradicate the militant group’s presence in Gaza.

An Israeli delegation reportedly met with CIA Director William Burns in Qatar on Saturday as the US has been attempting to persuade the IDF to halt its offensive on Rafah, Gaza’s southernmost city that is overcrowded with refugees. An unnamed Israeli official told Reuters after the meeting that there were still “significant gaps” in negotiations, particularly regarding the proposed ratio of the Israelis and Palestinians involved in the potential swap.

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Israel wants new deal from Hamas – media

Hamas is yet to respond to the proposal, which, according to the Israeli media, could take a few days.

Israel declared war on Hamas on October 7, after the militants attacked Israeli cities, killing some 1,100 people and taking more than 250 hostages. Dozens of captives were subsequently freed as part of a series of swaps during the weeklong truce in November. Around 130 hostages are still held in Gaza, according to Israeli officials.

More than 30,000 Palestinians have been killed during Israel’s operation in Gaza since October 7, according to local Hamas-run authorities.

 

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