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What is known so far in push for truce in Gaza

Palestinian militant group Hamas has submitted a proposal for a new six-week truce in Gaza, to be followed by a durable ceasefire, a Hamas official has told the AFP news agency.

Here is what we know about the demands of both Hamas and Israel as mediators push for a deal to end the five-month-old war.

What does Hamas want?

The latest Hamas proposal calls for a truce of 42 days, during which it would release about 42 hostages seized during the 7 October attack on southern Israel that triggered the war, the Hamas official said.

In exchange for each hostage, Hamas wants between 20 and 50 Palestinian prisoners to be released from Israeli custody.

The exchange could include women, children, elderly and ill hostages, whereas male soldiers and the bodies of dead hostages would be returned during a later, comprehensive exchange to coincide with a full ceasefire.

Hamas took about 250 Israeli and foreign hostages on 7 October, more than 100 of whom were released during the only previous truce in the war, which lasted for a week in November.

Israel believes about 130 captives taken on 7 October remain in Gaza including 32 presumed dead.

Mediators had been pushing for a six-week pause during recent talks, but until today Hamas had insisted no further hostages would be exchanged without a permanent ceasefire and Israeli withdrawal from Gaza.

Israeli tanks near the Gaza border in southern Israel

Now the militants are saying that, during a six-week truce, Israeli forces would need to withdraw from “all cities and populated areas in the Gaza Strip” and allow for the return of displaced Gazans “without restrictions”.

The Hamas proposal also calls for the flow of humanitarian aid to be ramped up to its pre-war level of around 500 trucks per day.

Once a ceasefire takes effect, Israel would also need to withdraw from Gaza and end its long-running blockade of the territory, and the deal would also address plans to reconstruct Gaza, which Hamas has ruled since 2007.

What does Israel want?

Israel has so far refused to consider withdrawing troops from Gaza, saying such a move would amount to victory for Hamas.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office has said that Hamas’s new proposal was “unfounded” but that the government would send a delegation to the Qatari capital for another round of talks on securing the release of the hostages.

Israel did not send a team to a recent round of talks in Cairo.

A group representing families told Mr Netanyahu he should “not postpone the deal to secure the release of our hostages. Save them now.”

Relatives of Israeli hostages demonstrate at Habima Square in Tel Aviv, Israel

Earlier this week, Mr Netanyahu told representatives of hostages’ families in Tel Aviv that Hamas was facing pressure from mediator Qatar, where Hamas has a political bureau.

“The Qatari pressure is beginning to work. Qatar has started to tell them: ‘We will throw you out. We will deny you funds,'” Mr Netanyahu said, according to his office.

“At the moment there is a change in the Qatari pressure. This is the most positive thing I can say.”

During recent talks, Israel has pushed for Hamas to provide a list of hostages believed to still be alive in Gaza – a task Hamas says it is unable to complete while Israeli bombing continues.

Hamas says it does not know who among the hostages “are alive or dead, killed because of strikes or hunger” and that they are “held by numerous groups in multiple places” across the Palestinian territory.

Hamas’s 7 October attack resulted in the deaths of about 1,160 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally of Israeli official figures.

Israel’s retaliatory military campaign has killed at least 31,490 people, mostly women and children, according to the health ministry in the Hamas-run territory.

Talks about a possible truce are coinciding with Israeli preparations for an operation in Rafah where most of Gaza’s population has sought refuge.

Mr Netanyahu’s office has said he had approved the military’s plan for a Rafah operation, without giving details or a timeline.


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