Netanyahu says progress made on hostages as Hamas says deal close


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said “we are making progress” on the release of hostages snatched by Hamas on 7 October and taken to Gaza.

The leader of Hamas earlier said the group was close to reaching a “truce agreement” with Israel, raising hopes of a pause in hostilities that could see hostages freed.

The humanitarian organisation ICRC – which helped facilitate previous hostage deals – has been meeting Hamas leaders, which has raised hopes further still.

A Qatari mediator says talks are at the “closest point” to reaching a deal since the conflict began – and the US has spoken of temporary breaks in fighting to allow hostages safely out.

Meanwhile, fighting continues to rage in Gaza, with the Israeli military saying it has surrounded the city of Jabalia in the north.

Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry says 13,300 people, including more than 5,000 children, have been killed in Israel’s campaign.

Israel began attacking Hamas-run Gaza after Hamas fighters crossed the border on 7 October, killing 1,200 people and taking more than 200 others hostage. ___Courtesy