Israel war news: Is Gaza ceasefire on cards? Israeli PM Netanyahu hints at possible hostage deal with Hamas | Mint – Mint

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told US media that there could be a potential deal to free hostages being held in the Gaza Strip. However, he refrained from giving specifics about the plan.

Speaking to NBC show ‘Meet the Press’, the Israeli PM said, “We heard that there was an impending deal of this kind or of that kind and then we learned that it was all hokum. But the minute we started the ground operation, that began to change,” as quoted by AFP.

Asked whether there is a potential deal to free more of the hostages being held by Hamas militants, Netanyahu replied: “There could be.”

However, he did not elaborate on any potential strategy that may be implemented to release all or part of the 239 captives that Israel claims are being kept.

“I think the less I say about it, the more I’ll increase the chances that it materializes,” he added.

Meanwhile, Netanyahu has flatly rejected calls for a ceasefire in Gaza without the release of the hostages. In a series of appearances on US Sunday talk shows, he sought to make clear Israel was doing everything it could to rescue or secure the release of those held captive.

According to John Kirby, the White House National Security Council told MSNBC that, “active negotiation and conversations going on with our counterparts in the region” regarding a possible hostages agreement. However, like Netanyahu, he did not provide specifics.

“The less said publicly about these sensitive negotiations and conversations, probably the better,” Kirby said.

In a conversation with Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani on Sunday, US President Joe Biden concurred that all hostages held by Hamas should be released “without further delay,” as stated by the White House.

Meanwhile, Netanyahu also addressed the issue of Gaza’s hospitals, which have become trapped in the fighting, and in particular Al-Shifa, the Hamas-run territory’s largest hospital, which authorities say faces a catastrophic situation. On the 37th day of the Israel-Gaza conflict, the Israeli military supplied 300 litres of fuel to Shifa Hospital for critical medical needs. According to the IDF, Hamas prevented the hospital from accepting the fuel. “Our troops risked their lives to hand-deliver 300 litres of fuel to the Shifa hospital for urgent medical purposes. Hamas forbade the hospital from taking it,” IDF wrote on X.

In an earlier statement, IDF spokesperson Daniel Hagari also said “There is no siege of Shifa Hospital” and emphasised ongoing cooperation with Gaza’s hospital staff, as per an ANI report. He said talks are being held to facilitate the safe movement of Gazans from Al-Shifa Hospital, particularly focusing on the east side open for safe passage.

PM Netanyahu had also said that, “There’s no reason why we can’t get the patients out of there. We’re telling them to leave, and in fact we’re creating — helping them by creating safe corridors” through which patients and others can evacuate to areas of less fighting in southern Gaza. According to Netanyahu, some 100 patients have already been evacuated from Al-Shifa hospital.

Meanwhile, Israel launched its massive counter-offensive in Gaza after Hamas fighters poured across the heavily militarised border on October 7, killing about 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and taking around 240 hostages, according to Israeli officials. Vowing to destroy the militant group, Israel retaliated with relentless bombardments and a ground campaign that the health ministry in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip says has killed more than 11,000 people, mostly civilians and many of them children.

(With inputs from AFP, Reuters)

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Updated: 13 Nov 2023, 09:49 AM IST

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