Hamas and Israel remain at odds over hostage swap and ceasefire deal

Israel escalates attacks on Gaza

New Delhi: Despite the efforts of the United States, Qatar, and Egypt, the talks between Hamas and Israel over a possible hostage swap and ceasefire deal have reached a deadlock. The three mediators have been working for weeks to find a solution that would end the violence in Gaza and secure the release of Israeli captives held by Hamas.

According to sources, the main sticking points are the number and identity of the hostages and prisoners to be exchanged, and the duration and conditions of the ceasefire. Hamas is reportedly holding around 100 Israeli hostages, including two civilians and the remains of two soldiers. Israel is holding thousands of Palestinian prisoners, some of whom are serving life sentences for involvement in attacks against Israelis.

Hamas has demanded that Israel stop its military operations, lift the blockade on Gaza, and release a large number of Palestinian prisoners, including senior Hamas leaders and members of the armed wing. Hamas has also rejected the idea of a six-week ceasefire, insisting on a permanent truce and a full withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza.

Israel, on the other hand, has asked Hamas to provide a list of the hostages who are alive and to agree on a reasonable ratio of captives to prisoners to be released. Israel has also expressed its willingness to extend humanitarian aid to Gaza, but only if Hamas stops firing rockets and digging tunnels.

The negotiations have been complicated by the lack of direct contact between the two sides and the involvement of multiple intermediaries with different agendas. The United States, Qatar, and Egypt have been trying to bridge the gaps and persuade both parties to compromise, but so far, their efforts have been in vain.

Israel intensifies attacks

Senior Hamas official Osama Hamdan said that his group is ready to continue the talks, but only if Israel shows more flexibility and seriousness. He also accused Israel of using the hostages as a bargaining chip and violating international law. Meanwhile, Israel has accused Hamas of being unrealistic and unreasonable, and of using the hostages as human shields and propaganda tools.