Exclusive-Hamas issues ceasefire proposal detailing exchange of hostages, prisoners

By Samia Nakhoul

DUBAI (Reuters) – Hamas has presented a Gaza ceasefire proposal to mediators and the U.S. which includes the release of Israeli hostages in exchange for freedom for Palestinian prisoners, 100 of whom are serving life sentences, according to a proposal seen by Reuters.

Hamas said the initial release of Israelis would include women, children, elderly, and ill hostages in exchange for the release of 700-1000 Palestinian prisoners, according to the proposal. The release of Israeli “female recruits” is included.

The office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the new Hamas position was based on “unrealistic demands.”

Egypt and Qatar have been trying to narrow differences between Israel and Hamas over what a ceasefire should look like as a deepening humanitarian crisis has one quarter of the population in the battered Gaza Strip facing famine.

In February, Hamas received a draft proposal from Gaza truce talks in Paris which included a 40-day pause in all military operations and the exchange of Palestinian prisoners for Israeli hostages at a ratio of 10 to one – a similar ratio to the new ceasedfire proposal.

Israel also rejected that draft proposal, citing its long-held goal of not ending the war until it destroyed Hamas. Hamas insists an agreement should end the war.

According to the latest proposal, Hamas said it would agree on a date for a permanent ceasefire after the initial exchange of hostages and prisoners, and that a deadline for an Israeli withdrawal from Gaza would be agreed upon after the first stage.

The group said all detainees from both sides would be released in a second stage of the plan.

Late on Thursday, Hamas said it presented to mediators a comprehensive vision of a truce based on stopping what it calls Israeli aggression against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, providing relief and aid, the return of displaced Gazans to their homes, and the withdrawal of Israeli forces.

With the war now in its sixth month, the U.N. has warned that at least 576,000 people in Gaza are on the brink of famine and global pressure has been growing on Israel to allow more access for aid.

The war was triggered by a Hamas-led attack on southern Israeli towns on Oct. 7 that left 1,200 people killed and 253 taken hostage, according to Israeli tallies.

Since then, Israel’s air, sea and ground assault on Gaza has killed more than 31,000 people and wounded over 71,500, according to Gaza health authorities.

(Reporting by Samia Nakhoul, writing by Nayera Abdallah, Editing Michael Georgy)

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