5:00 PM ET, November 19, 2023
Negotiators are nearing a deal on the first release of dozens of hostages held in Gaza, sources say
From CNN’s Alex Marquardt and MJ Lee
Ahmad Gharabli/AFP/Getty Images
A recent draft of a possible deal to secure the release of hostages held by Hamas in Gaza suggests a four- to five-day pause in fighting for the initial release of 50 hostages, two sources familiar with the negotiations told CNN.
An agreement has not yet been reached, and the text of an agreement has been traded back and forth for weeks. But negotiators from various countries, including senior officials in US President Joe Biden’s administration, express rare optimism about the progress.
While talks could still break down and issues remain, a deal could now be days away, sources say.
In a sign of how tenuous the talks have been, two sources told CNN that Hamas has abruptly suspended talks at least once recently over various objections, one of which is Israel’s raid of Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza. But the discussions eventually picked up again.
Points of contact: Details are still to be worked out regarding aid, with Israel expressing concern that the aid could go to help Hamas instead of civilians. Hamas initially requested 500 trucks of aid per day, one of the sources said. A source said that while discussions are ongoing, a deal involving more than 200 trucks would be logistically challenging.
There are also questions about how to inspect the trucks and which entry points should be used. Aid will include fuel and cooking oil for bakeries and continue to flow in after the initial hostage breaks.
Staggered Releases: The latest discussions involve plans for staggered releases of the hostages, with pauses potentially increasing after an initial release of a significant number of civilians, according to the sources.
Israel has presented a list of about 100 names of civilian hostages it wants included in the agreement, a source told CNN. Israel has publicly demanded that all hostages be released.
Hamas has indicated that it will be willing to release 50 hostages over a several-day pause. More hostages, about 20 to 25, may be released after that as the breaks are extended.
Hamas has said it needs pauses in the fighting to gather the hostages, who are being held in various locations and by various Hamas-allied groups in Gaza.
The US National Security Council and the Israeli Embassy in the US declined to comment for this story. Qatar’s embassy in the United States did not immediately respond for comment.
CNN’s Priscilla Alvarez contributed reporting to this post.