Cairo, Egypt (EFE). –
Egypt and Qatar are mediating between Israel and the Islamist group Hamas for the release of some 80 hostages, all Israeli civilians, in exchange for a temporary ceasefire and a commitment to stop attacks on health centers, three sources familiar with the process informed EFE.
An Egyptian security source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that a “preliminary agreement” had been reached for the release of some 80 civilians, to be chosen by Hamas, “in exchange for a temporary ceasefire” and for Israel to “stay away from health targets, including hospitals”.
According to the informant, “the process of releasing the prisoners is expected to take place in the next few hours.” It is “a beginning on which we can build to achieve a cease-fire and bring the two parties, the Israelis and the Palestinians, to the negotiating table,” the source added. In addition, two Palestinian informants in Cairo said the Islamist group has pledged to release “Israeli children and elderly people,” some of whom hold dual citizenship.
Hamas is also demanding the release of Palestinian minors and women held in Israeli prisons and the entry of fuel into Gaza. According to the same sources, rounds of talks are still underway in traveling venues, both in Doha, the Qatari capital, and in Egypt, with the participation of the United States, to reach a final agreement between the two parties.
At the moment, the possible duration of the proposed ceasefire has not been revealed. Initially, a ceasefire of up to three days was being considered, although Hamas insists on extending it to a week.
Palestinian sources pointed out that one factor complicating the negotiations is that Hamas political leaders in Qatar are not the ones making decisions on the ground. Those who correspond to “Yahya al Sinwar, the leader in the Strip, one of the founders of the military wing of the organization, along with Mohamed Deif, who planned the October 7 attack with Marwan Issa”. Thus, the sources pointed out that these negotiations are “more difficult” than those of ten years ago because there are now several mediators.
This “requires extreme caution for fear that Israel and the US will use modern technology to determine the whereabouts of Hamas leaders,” they explained.
They also pointed out that each round of negotiations takes “two or three days,” which slows down the process and prolongs the talks, since Israel, the US, Qatar and Egypt meet first and then deliver the message to Hamas leaders in Doha and then in Gaza. Therefore, they said, the best way to “design an agreement” is to take advantage of humanitarian pauses and “start negotiations without air and artillery bombardments” of the Palestinian enclave, since the attacks make it difficult for Hamas to communicate with its military wing on the ground.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu insisted on Sunday that his country was working around the clock and doing “everything possible” to free the more than 200 hostages still held by Hamas, and that there was even a “possible agreement”. During an interview offered on Sunday to the American network NBC, he indicated that at this time there is “a possible agreement” for the release of those kidnapped since the attacks of October 7. EFE