Reports from the Washington Post indicate that Israel, the United States, and Hamas have reached a tentative agreement to free dozens of women and children held hostage in Gaza. The agreement also includes a five-day pause in fighting. However, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. officials have stated that no deal has been officially reached. The hostage release is expected to begin in the coming days if there are no unforeseen obstacles.
According to the detailed six-page agreement, combat operations would be frozen for at least five days while hostages are released in groups every 24 hours. Around 240 hostages were taken by Hamas during their rampage in Israel on October 7, resulting in the death of 1,200 people. Additionally, the temporary ceasefire would allow for a significant amount of humanitarian aid to enter Gaza, which has been a major concern.
Despite the reports, Netanyahu emphasized during a press conference that no deal has been finalized yet. He assured the public that they would be informed once there is any concrete news. A White House spokesperson echoed this sentiment, stating that a deal had not been reached and that the U.S. was still actively working towards a resolution. Additionally, reports indicate that Israel is preparing to expand its offensive against Hamas militants to southern Gaza, following airstrikes that killed numerous Palestinians, including innocent civilians seeking shelter in schools.
The situation in Gaza remains dire, with Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza City being targeted by Israeli forces. The World Health Organization described the hospital as a “death zone” due to the signs of gunfire and shelling. Plans are underway to evacuate the remaining patients and staff. UNRWA, the U.N. aid organization for Palestinian refugees, reported that two of its schools had been bombarded by Israel, resulting in the deaths and injuries of numerous individuals.
In response to these attacks, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas reached out to U.S. President Joe Biden, urging him to intervene and put an end to the Israeli operation in Gaza. Israeli forces also conducted incursions in the West Bank, resulting in the deaths of two Palestinians.
Biden, while not supporting an immediate ceasefire, proposed that the Palestinian Authority should eventually govern both Gaza and the West Bank. Netanyahu, however, stated that the current Palestinian Authority is not capable of managing Gaza. Israel has not disclosed its strategy for Gaza after the war. The potential expansion of the offensive to southern Gaza may lead to further displacement of Palestinians, exacerbating an already dire humanitarian crisis. The conflict has already displaced two-thirds of Gaza’s population, which stands at around 2.3 million people.
The situation in Gaza is highly volatile, with the loss of innocent lives and the constant threat of escalation. Efforts to secure a temporary ceasefire and release hostages remain ongoing, with hopes of a resolution in the near future.