While at the moment there's no immediate sign of a hostage deal, there are discussions underway for a potential agreement to release more than 200 civilian hostages under Hamas control.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said there could be a potential deal with Hamas to free hostages but wouldn’t go into much detail in an interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday.
“I think the less I said about it, the more I'll increase the chances that it materializes,” said Netanyahu. “It's a result of pressure, military pressure, the extraordinary work that the IDF is doing, putting pressure on the Hamas leadership. That's the one thing that might create a deal.”
A senior U.S. administration official told NBC that the potential deal would involve the release of 80 women and children in Gaza in exchange for Palestinian women and teens imprisoned in Israel.
However, a deal doesn’t appear to be in sight.
According to reports citing Reuters, Hamas is suspending hostage talks because of Israel’s attacks on Al-Shifa Hospital, the largest hospital in the Gaza Strip.
Israel has accused Hamas of using the hospital as a command center. Hamas has reportedly denied the accusations.
Still, Israel has rejected calls for a ceasefire.
Netanyahu says Israel will not agree to a ceasefire in Gaza until every Israeli hostage has been released.
It "doesn't mean that we can't give a humanitarian pause for a few hours in a specific time and place where we want to have a humanitarian corridor and have the people leave safely,” said Netanyahu.
Civilians are being told to move south below the fighting area for safety, which Netanyahu says he believes has reduced the number of civilian casualties.
“I would say the ground offensive that we began is actually reducing the amount of civilian casualties because the civilian population in Gaza is heeding our call to vacate the territories, the zone of fight, and get out of harm's way, even though Hamas is trying to keep them in harm's way,” said Netanyahu.
The attacks in Gaza have killed more than 11,000 people, mostly civilians, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza.
The White House supports a humanitarian pause but has not called for a ceasefire.
U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said Friday that more needs to be done to help civilians in Gaza.
"As I’ve said from the start, this is a process, and it’s not always flipping a light switch, but we have seen progress. We just need to see more of it, and we need to maximize every effort to prevent Palestinian deaths and to advance the humanitarian assistance that’s getting to them,”said Blinken.
Two major hospitals in Gaza, including Al-Shifa, are suspending operations and are now closed to new patients.
Medical staff say patients are in danger of dying because of a lack of fuel and medicine.
Netanyahu claimed Israel offered fuel to the hospital but that Hamas militants refused to take it.
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