Israel receives 'positive message' from Qatar on Hamas response to negotiations
The message to Israeli intelligence came from Qatar, a key mediator between the two sides, Israel's public broadcaster said.
It reported that Hamas agreed for the first time to an exchange deal "without a comprehensive cessation of the war as a condition" for the return of the hostages held in Gaza.
Other Israeli media indicated that Israel's war cabinet discussed a proposal from Doha for a hostage exchange in return for a month-long truce.
Israel's Channel 12 confirmed the Qatari proposal stipulates a one-month truce in return for the release of 40 to 50 hostages in the first phase, along with an unspecified number of Palestinians held by Israel.
The broadcaster added that the second stage is viewed as more complex and it remains unclear what will be agreed, though in principle it includes Israel's withdrawal from Gaza.
Qatar played a central role in efforts that brought about the previous weeklong pause in hostilities in the strip, which expired on 1 December.
Two American-Israeli hostages kept captive in Gaza were freed on 20 October following mediation by Doha.
Egypt, which borders Gaza and Israel, also plays an important role in mediating between Hamas and Tel Aviv.
Israel's war on Gaza has so far killed more than 21,500 people and seen ambulances, hospitals, residential buildings and places of worship attacked.
South Africa lodged a case against Israel at the International Court of Justice on Friday, alleging it was engaged in "genocidal acts against the Palestinian people in Gaza".
Israeli foreign ministry spokesperson Lior Haiat said his country "rejects with disgust" what he called the "blood libel spread by South Africa in its application" to the court.