Hamas said on Tuesday that the Palestinian militant group was near a truce agreement with Israel, even as the deadly assault on Gaza continued and rockets were being fired into Israel.
Hamas officials were «close to reaching a truce agreement» with Israel and the group has delivered its response to Qatari mediators, Ismail Haniyeh said in a statement sent to Reuters by his aide.
A source briefed on the negotiations told Reuters the agreement was in its «final stages» and «closer than it has ever been».
The deal envisages the release of around 50 civilian hostages by Hamas and of female and minor-aged Palestinian detainees from Israeli custody, as well as a multi-day pause in fighting, according to the source.
A Hamas official told Al Jazeera TV that negotiations were centred on how long the truce would last, arrangements for delivery of aid into Gaza and details of the exchange of captives.
Both sides would free women and children and details would be announced by Qatar, which is mediating in the negotiations, said the official, Issat el Reshiq.
Israel has generally avoided giving commentary on the status of the Qatar-led talks, but Israel's Channel 12 and Channel 13 TV stations both quoted unidentified officials as saying terms of a deal could be reached «within hours», giving no details.
Hamas took about 240 hostages during its Oct.
7 rampage into Israel that killed 1,200 people.
Mirjana Spoljaric, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), met Haniyeh in Qatar on Monday to «advance humanitarian issues» related to the conflict, the Geneva-based ICRC said in a statement. She also separately met Qatari authorities.
The ICRC said it was not part of negotiations aimed at releasing the