- LATEST DEVELOPMENTS:
- Israeli television reports a ceasefire but no details
- Gaza authorities say 20 dead in bomb attack on Nuseirat
GAZA/JERUSALEM, Nov 21 (Portal) – The head of Hamas told Portal on Tuesday that the Palestinian militant group was close to a ceasefire deal with Israel, even as the deadly attack on Gaza continued and rockets were fired at Israel.
Hamas officials are “close to reaching a ceasefire agreement” with Israel and the group has sent its response to Qatari mediators, Ismail Haniyeh said in a statement sent to Portal by his adviser.
No further details were given in the statement, but a Hamas official told Al Jazeera TV that negotiations focused on the duration of the ceasefire, arrangements for the delivery of aid to Gaza and the exchange of Israeli hostages held by Hamas Palestinian prisoners concentrated in Israel.
Both sides would release women and children and details would be announced by Qatar, which is mediating in the negotiations, said official Issat el Reshiq.
Israel has generally avoided commenting on the status of Qatar-led talks. Israel’s Channel 12 television quoted an unidentified senior government source as saying, “They are close,” but gave no further details.
Hamas took about 240 hostages in its October 7 rampage in Israel that killed 1,200 people.
Mirjana Spoljaric, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), met Haniyeh in Qatar on Monday to advance “humanitarian issues” related to the conflict, the Geneva-based ICRC said in a statement. She also met separately with Qatari authorities.
The ICRC said it was not part of the negotiations to release the hostages, but as a neutral mediator it was ready to “facilitate any future release to which the parties agree.”
Rumors have been circulating for days about an impending hostage deal. Portal reported last week that Qatari negotiators were seeking a deal for the release of 50 hostages by Hamas in return for Israel’s release of some prisoners and a three-day ceasefire.
Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Herzog said on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday that he hoped for an agreement “in the coming days,” while Qatar’s Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman al-Thani said that The remaining sticking points are “very” irrelevant.” US President Joe Biden and other US officials said on Monday that an agreement was close.
The Hamas attack on October 7, the deadliest day in Israel’s 75-year history, prompted Israel to invade Gaza to destroy the militant group that has ruled there since 2007.
Since then, according to the Hamas-led government in the Gaza Strip, at least 13,300 Palestinians, including at least 5,600 children, have been killed by Israeli bombings that have turned large swaths of the Gaza Strip, especially its northern half, into wasteland.
Around two-thirds of Gaza’s 2.3 million people have become homeless, and thousands still trek south on foot every day, carrying belongings and children in their arms. The central and southern parts of the enclave, where Israel sent them, were also regularly attacked.
20 dead reported in attack in Nuseirat
Gaza health authorities said on Tuesday that at least 20 Palestinians were killed in an Israeli bombing at the Nuseirat refugee camp in the center of the Gaza Strip at midnight. There was no immediate comment from Israel.
The already crowded Nuseirat district, which grew out of a camp for Palestinian refugees from the 1948 Israeli-Arab war, lies south of the wetlands that bisect the strip and was the first point of arrival for large numbers of refugees continuing the fighting escaped north.
Tens of thousands of civilians are believed to remain in the north despite an Israeli order to flee. All hospitals there are no longer functioning normally, although many are still housing patients and displaced Gazans. Israel claims that Hamas uses hospitals as a shield for its fighters, which Hamas and the hospitals deny.
Gaza’s health ministry said on Monday that at least 12 Palestinians were killed and dozens were injured when shots were fired at an Indonesian hospital surrounded by Israeli tanks. Israel says it fired back at militants who opened fire from inside.
Health officials said 700 patients and staff were under Israeli fire and denied the presence of militants.
Nursing department head Issam Nabhan told Al-Jazeera Live on Tuesday that patients were dying and there were 60 bodies that needed to be buried in yards on the site. He called for the evacuation of patients and staff.
“There is no oxygen to care for the patients. Everyone who was given artificial ventilation died. We turn to the free world. The Indonesian hospital has become a graveyard and not a hospital.”
Reporting by Portal bureaus; Writing by Idrees Ali, Raju Gopalakrishnan, Peter Graff; Editing by Cynthia Osterman, Simon Cameron-Moore and Alex Richardson
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