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Home / News / Hamas mulls proposal for three-stage ceasefire in Gaza

Hamas mulls proposal for three-stage ceasefire in Gaza

Hamas is reviewing plans for a three-stage ceasefire with Israel which foresees a weeks-long halt to the Gaza war, a source in the Palestinian militant group has said.

The Islamist movement said earlier this week that it was mulling proposals drawn up by mediators in Paris for a second truce nearly four months since the war began.

While a November pause to the fighting lasted a week, the latest accord aims to pave the way for an initial six-week halt to the fighting.

Over that period Israel would release between 200 and 300 Palestinian prisoners who are not deemed high-security detainees, in exchange for 35 to 40 hostages held in Gaza, the Hamas source close to Egyptian and Qatari mediators said.

Only “women, children and sick men over 60” who are captive in Gaza would be freed at this stage, the Hamas source told AFP, declining to be named given the sensitivity of the issue.

Palestinian militants seized about 250 hostages during Hamas’s 7 October attack on Israel. The attack resulted in the deaths of around 1,140 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on official figures.

Israel says 132 of the hostages remain in Gaza including at least 29 people believed to have been killed.

An Israeli army self-propelled artillery Howitzer firing rounds from southern Israel towards Gaza

Relentless bombardment by Israel and a ground invasion has killed at least 26,900 people in Gaza since then, most of them women and children, according to the Hamas-run territory’s health ministry.

The war has displaced the vast majority of Gaza’s population of 2.4 million and prompted the United Nations to warn famine is imminent.

Under the new agreement, aid deliveries would be boosted with the entry of 200 to 300 trucks per day.

“The first stage includes negotiations around the withdrawal of Israeli forces and enabling the return of displaced people to Gaza (City) and the north of the strip,” the source said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ruled out pulling Israel’s armed forces from Gaza, but in a meeting with some families of hostages earlier he vowed to bring the captives home.

“We are making every effort, but the more discreet these efforts are, greater are the chances of success,” he said in a statement issued by his office.

“There is a real effort to bring everyone back… it’s too early to say how it will unfold, but these efforts are underway as we speak.”

The Hamas source said if the ceasefire lasts, a second stage would see Israeli reservist soldiers released from captivity in exchange for an undefined number of Palestinian prisoners.

Other soldiers and officers would subsequently be freed, the source said, once more in tandem with the release of Palestinians held in Israel.

The last issues addressed by the deal pertain to an exchange of bodies by the two sides, as well as the control of Gaza border crossings and rebuilding the shattered territory.

Egypt and Qatar were set to serve as mediators, in coordination with the United States and France, the Hamas source added.

It comes as Israeli forces further pounded areas in northern and southern Gaza.

People leave Khan Yunis as Israeli bombardment continues

World powers hope to prevent a wider conflict, but tensions in the Middle East remained high after Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi rebels said they would keep attacking US and British warships in the Red Sea in solidarity with Palestinians.

Relations between Tehran and Washington are also tense after the deaths of three US soldiers in a drone strike in Jordan that US officials blame on Iran-backed militants. Washington has not yet outlined its response, but Iran’s Revolutionary Guards said they would respond to any US threat.

Gaza health authorities said 26,900 Palestinians had been killed – including 150 over the past 24 hours – in the war that was triggered after Hamas fighters stormed from Gaza into Israeli towns on 7 October killing 1,200 and taking 253 hostages.

In the latest fighting, Israel bombarded parts of the city of Khan Younis in southern Gaza, districts of Gaza City in the north, and areas in the Al-Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza, residents said.

Witnesses said tanks pummelled areas around Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis, the largest hospital still functioning in southern Gaza.

To get better access to the frontlines, Palestinian medics say they have formed field medical points, as reaching the fallen and the wounded in Khan Younis has become increasingly difficult amid street battles and artillery strikes

“There’s a lot of injuries among the displaced who were in the industrial quarter and some schools,” said the Head of the Emergency Unit at Nasser Hospital, Nassim Hassan, “many of the injured left loaded on carts, tuk-tuks, cars or even on foot.”

A large number of displaced families have been sheltering in a warehouse-like building at the Al-Amal Hospital in Khan Younis, cowering in fear as gunfire rattles outside, video from the Palestine Red Crescent Society showed.

The Red Crescent said yesterday that Israeli forces had stormed the hospital and asked displaced people and staff to evacuate at gunpoint. An Israeli military spokesperson denied this.

Israel’s military said its forces had killed at least 25 Palestinian militants in Gaza in the past 24 hours, and that three Israeli soldiers had been killed in battle. Some 224 Israeli troops have now been killed during the ground offensive.

Smoke rises over Khan Yunis which has become the centre of fighting

Much of Gaza has been devastated by almost four months of Israeli bombardment, and most of its 2.3m residents have been uprooted by fighting that international aid agencies say has caused a humanitarian crisis.

“Any ceasefire that doesn’t end the war and return us to our homes in Gaza City and the north is not worth it,” Ahmed, a father of six who fled his home in Gaza City for Rafah in the south, said by telephone. “We are exhausted.”

But, in a reminder of the huge gap in the public stances of the warring sides over what it would take to halt combat even temporarily, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu repeated his vow not to pull troops out of Gaza until “total victory”.

Israel says it will not stop fighting until Hamas is eradicated. Hamas says it will release its remaining captives only as part of a wider deal to end the war permanently.

The conflict has triggered concern of an escalation in an already tense region.

The US and Britain have carried out strikes on Houthi targets in Yemen over the group’s attacks on Red Sea shipping, and returned the militia to a list of terrorist groups.

But the Houthis’ military spokesperson said today the group would continue what it called acts of self defence, stoking fears of long-term disruptions to world trade.

With tensions also high over Saturday’s drone attack on US service members in Jordan, the US says it has decided how to respond but has not said how.

Iran-aligned Iraqi armed group Kataib Hezbollah has said it is suspending all its military operations against US troops in the region. But Iranian Revolutionary Guards chief Hossein Salami remained resolute, saying “no (US) threat will be left unanswered.”

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