Hamas hostage deal: 53 captives to be released in first phase, 20 more to follow

Government, Security Cabinet to vote on agreement proposal later Tuesday; Israel agrees to pause fighting for four days in initial phase

Under the proposed hostage release deal that will be brought for a vote of the Security Cabinet and government Tuesday evening, Hamas will initially release 53 hostages and attempt to release 20 more.
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Israel, in return for the first 53 releases, agrees to a four-day cease-fire, shorter than Hamas's five-day demand.
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עצרת של משפחות החטופים והנעדרים בתל אביב
עצרת של משפחות החטופים והנעדרים בתל אביב
Families of hostages call for release of loved ones in rally in Tel Aviv
(Photo: REUTERS /Ammar Awad)
The deal includes a provision to extend the cease-fire by two days if Hamas releases an additional 20 captives. Israel, meanwhile, is preparing for a potential extension of the cease-fire beyond six days, contingent on further releases.
Under the agreement, Israel commits to refraining from aerial activity over the Gaza Strip for six hours each day during the initial cease-fire days, while Hamas attempts to locate the remaining captives.
Hamas insisted on this to prevent Israel from tracking their locations. The assumption in Israel is that some of the additional 20 captives include children and mothers not initially released. The list does not include foreigners without Israeli citizenship, and it's unclear what will happen if Hamas identifies fewer captives. The deal is also expected to include the release of elderly women.
In exchange, Israel will release approximately 140-150 prisoners, including women and minors. Additionally, Israel will allow the entry of fuel into the Gaza Strip and increase humanitarian aid. This arrangement incentivizes Hamas to release more captives, both to secure the release of more prisoners and to extend the cease-fire.
There's a possibility that the number of released captives could reach up to 100. In such a case, Israel would release 300 prisoners, and the cease-fire days could extend to 10 days.
According to the latest information, there are 236 Israeli captives in the Gaza Strip, including 40 children and 13 mothers. Israel estimates that Hamas holds 80 captives who meet the criteria of the deal: children, mothers, and elderly women. In total, Israel is expected to transfer 240 prisoners to Hamas and commit to an eight-day cease-fire.
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מחחאת משפחות החטופים בתל אביב
מחחאת משפחות החטופים בתל אביב
Families of Hamas hostages held in Gaza demonstrate outside the defense headquarters in Tel Aviv
(Photo: Dana Koppel)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday expressed cautious optimism that an agreement for the release of hostages held in Gaza might be struck soon.
"We are making progress. I don't think it's advisable to say too much, even at this stage, but I hope there will be good news soon," he said at a meeting with troops.
"The first goal, the elimination of Hamas, we won't stop until it's achieved," Netanyahu added.
Meanwhile, the Qatari Foreign Ministry stated, "The Qatari mediation is in its final stage and at the closest point to reaching a cease-fire. We do not have a final agreement yet, but will announce the details as soon as we do."
Khalil al-Hayya, the deputy of Hamas leader in Gaza Yahya Sinwar, told the media, "We are still waiting for the response of the occupation regarding the humanitarian truce agreement."
CNN reported that a deal could be announced as soon as Tuesday, citing two Israeli sources. The release of the prisoners needs to be approved by the Israeli government but isn’t expected to be an obstacle, one said.
Earlier, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said that officials are "approaching a truce agreement" with Israel and the group delivered its response to Qatari officials.
Shortly thereafter, the Gaza-ruling terrorist group announced the details of the agreement it has approved. The deal includes a five-day truce and stipulates the release of "fifty non-military captives and foreign nationals, in exchange for the occupying authorities releasing 300 child and female prisoners."
Hamas also specified that the pause in fighting would entail "a total suspension of Israeli flights over Gaza, except in the northern areas where Israel will limit flights to six hours daily."
According to Hamas, 300 trucks carrying food, medical aid and fuel will be allowed into "all regions of the Gaza Strip." Hamas also reported that the Israeli hostages will be released incrementally, with ten being released each day.
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