Hostage deal could see 40 Israelis freed for 800 Palestinian prisoners

Protesters in Tel Aviv calling for the release of hostages held in Gaza
Protesters in Tel Aviv calling for the release of hostages held in Gaza - AMIR LEVY/ GETTY IMAGES

Hamas could free 40 Israeli hostages in return for the release of up to 800 Palestinian prisoners, it was reported on Sunday night.

Quoting government officials, Israeli media said the freed prisoners could include hundreds serving life sentences for terrorist attacks.

According to the Jerusalem Post, Israeli negotiators in Qatar signed off on an American compromise specifying the number of Palestinians who would be freed for each Israeli.

Al Akhbar, the Lebanese newspaper, reported that the original blueprint submitted by Hamas to mediators proposed a 42-day initial ceasefire, followed by a permanent one.

It also reported that Hamas proposed releasing 50 Palestinians for each Israeli hostage.

Israel had initially described Hamas’s demands as “absurd”.

Previous talks, via mediators, with Hamas broke down over the terrorist group’s demand for a permanent ceasefire and its refusal to provide a list of captives it still held.

Israel, which is committed to the complete destruction of Hamas, had been reluctant to agree to a permanent end to the fighting.

However, negotiations resumed on March 15, after Hamas submitted revised proposals dropping its demand for a permanent ceasefire.

Israel responded by sending a delegation to Qatar to resume talks.

The Israeli government found itself under pressure from a group representing the families of the hostages, who urged the coalition led by Benjamin Netanyahu to accept the deal.

More than 240 hostages were seized by Hamas on Oct 7 in a raid in which an estimated 1,200 people were killed.

A temporary truce late last year saw more than 100 hostages freed. At least four have died in captivity and around another 100 are still being held.

If confirmed, the agreement would see hostages released in batches.

The first tranche of about 40 would be women, including Israeli soldiers, along with the elderly sick and wounded.

The Telegraph has approached the US Department of State for comment.

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