New Delhi: After a month and a half of fierce fighting, Israel and Hamas are reportedly close to reaching a ceasefire agreement, thanks to the mediation efforts of Qatar. The Qatari administration, which has been facilitating the talks between the two sides, said on Tuesday that the negotiations are in their final stages and that the war may end by tonight. Meanwhile, the Israeli forces continue their ground invasion of Gaza City, where they have been bombing the Palestinian enclave from land, air, and sea. The Israeli offensive has turned Gaza into a graveyard, with thousands of casualties and widespread destruction.
According to the AFP news agency, the Qatar-led talks are based on a proposal that involves a temporary halt to the hostilities for several days, followed by a prisoner swap deal between Israel and Hamas. The deal would entail the release of about 50 Israeli hostages held by Hamas, and the release of Palestinian women and children detained by Israel. The talks also aim to address the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and the reconstruction of the damaged infrastructure.
The Reuters news agency reported that the leader of Hamas, the Palestinian militant group that controls Gaza, confirmed on Tuesday that they are on the verge of reaching a ceasefire agreement with Israel. This statement comes despite the ongoing Israeli ground offensive in Gaza, which has intensified in the past few days. Israel has generally avoided commenting on the status of the Qatar-led talks, but Israel’s Channel 12 television quoted an unnamed senior government source as saying that they are ‘close to an agreement’ without giving any further details.
The war, which started on October 7 after Hamas fired rockets at Israel, has claimed the lives of at least 13,300 Palestinians in Gaza, including 5,600 children and 3,550 women. On the Israeli side, 1,400 people have been killed by the Hamas rockets and attacks. Hamas has also captured about 240 Israelis and taken them hostage. The international community has been calling for an immediate end to the violence and a lasting solution to the conflict.