Fate Of Hamas Hostages Sealed After Latest Announcement

Hamas last week rejected a proposed two-month ceasefire by Israel that would have suspended military operations in Hamas to allow for the remaining hostages to be released in exchange for Palestinian prisoners held in Israel, the Times of Israel reported.

The ceasefire proposal, first reported by Axios, was presented through Qatari and Egyptian mediators.

Under the terms, Israel would have permitted top Hamas officials, including Yahya Sinwar, to leave the region and relocate to any other country. In exchange, Israel would pause operations in Gaza for two months during which a phased release of the remaining 136 hostages would be undertaken.

The first phase would prioritize critically ill hostages as well as the remaining women, children, and men over the age of 60. The next phase would prioritize the remaining civilian men and female IDF soldiers. The final phase would release the male IDF soldiers held hostage along with the bodies of the hostages who had already died.

Israeli officials estimate that of the 136 hostages remaining, 27 are dead.

In exchange for the release of the hostages, Israel proposed that Hamas and Israel arrange in advance the number of Palestinian prisoners Israel would free during each phase.

Under the deal, the IDF would withdraw from the main population centers in northern Gaza to allow the gradual return of Palestinian civilians.

Israel made it clear that the proposal did not include the end of hostilities in Gaza, nor would it release all 6,000 Palestinians currently imprisoned in Israel. At the same time, Israeli officials told Axios that they were open to releasing a significant number of prisoners.

Within a day of Axios’ report, a senior Egyptian official said Hamas flatly rejected the deal, saying the terror group’s leaders refused Israel’s offer to leave Gaza.

The Egyptian official said Hamas was demanding that Israel fully withdraw its forces from Gaza so that Palestinian civilians could return to their homes.