Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said Tuesday a truce agreement with Israel was in sight, raising hopes that hundreds of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel and dozens of people taken hostage in the October 7 attacks could be released.
There was no immediate response from Israel on the status of negotiation efforts to secure the release of the estimated 240 hostages seized during Hamas' surprise incursion.
The majority of the hostages are Israeli civilians. Only a handful have been released by Hamas.
"We are close to reaching a deal on a truce," Haniyeh said, according to a statement sent by his office to AFP.
Speaking to AFP on condition of anonymity, sources from Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad confirmed that their groups had agreed to the terms of a truce deal.
The tentative deal includes a five-day truce, comprised of a ceasefire on the ground and limits to Israeli air operations over southern Gaza. Israeli bombardment has killed over 13,300 people so far, most of them civilians.
Under the agreement, between 50 and 100 Israeli civilian and foreign hostages would be released, but no military personnel.
In exchange, some 300 Palestinians would be released from Israeli jails, among them women and children.
On Monday, US President Joe Biden had said he believed a deal was close, as hopes grew for talks brokered by Qatar, where Hamas has a political office and which has behind-the-scenes diplomatic links with Israel.
The International Committee of the Red Cross said Monday that its president had travelled to Qatar to meet Hamas's Haniyeh.