Hamas offers release of women, children and elderly hostages for up to 1,000 prisoners

The latest proposal is due to be discussed by Netanyahu’s cabinet on Friday


The latest truce proposal put forward by Hamas includes a hostage and prisoner exchange for a permanent ceasefire. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Hamas has presented a ceasefire proposal to mediators and the US that includes the initial release of women, children and elderly hostages in exchange for the freedom of up to 1000 Palestinian prisoners, 100 of whom are serving life sentences, according to a Reuters report on Friday.

The proposal, seen by Reuters, indicates that Hamas will agree on a date for a permanent ceasefire after the exchange of hostages and prisoners. After this initial stage, a deadline for the withdrawal of Israeli soldiers from Gaza would be agreed upon.

On Thursday, the office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused Hamas of continuing to push “unrealistic demands.” An update on the status of the negotiations, including the latest proposal, will be presented to both the war cabinet and larger security cabinet on Friday, according to Netanyahu’s office.

Hamas has said ceasefire negotiations faltered in recent weeks due to Netanyahu’s repeated rejection of their demands, which include a permanent ceasefire, Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, the return of the displaced in the south of the enclave to the centre and the north and increased aid without restrictions.

In February Israel rejected a draft proposal from Hamas over Netanyahu's insistence that the war should not end until the terrorist group is destroyed. For weeks, Qatar, Egypt and the US have been trying to bridge the gap between the two parties over what a ceasefire deal should look like during difficult discussions aimed at ending the fighting in Gaza and securing the release of over 130 Israeli hostages.

Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi has encouraged the deal and warned against the danger of an Israeli offensive in Rafah, where an estimated 1.5 million people have been displaced during the war.

“We are talking about reaching a ceasefire in Gaza, meaning a truce, providing the largest quantity of aid,” he said in a message recorded during a visit to the police academy.

This would include “curbing the impact of this famine on people, and also allowing for the people in the center and the south to move towards the north, with a very strong warning against incursion into Rafah,” el-Sissi said. “We warned of what is happening, that aid not entering would lead to famine.”

The Hostages and Missing Families Forum appealed to the war cabinet to agree to a deal in a statement released on Thursday: “For the first time, we can envision embracing them again, please grant us this right,” the statement said.

They called on Netanyahu and his war cabinet to act swiftly and to save all 134 “daughters and sons who were cruelly taken, solely for being Israelis.”

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