War in the Middle East: Concrete hope for the release of dozens of hostages in Gaza

In the terrorist attack on October 7th, Islamists kidnapped around 240 hostages in the Gaza Strip. Now a deal to release a few dozen of them appears to be within reach. An overview.

A good six weeks after the terrorist attack by the Islamist Hamas on Israel, the hoped-for release of hostages in the Gaza Strip appears to be getting closer. There are now very low hurdles for an agreement between Israel and Hamas, said Qatar’s Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, whose emirate plays an important mediating role. The unresolved points are now more “practical and logistical” but do not touch the core of the deal, said Al Thani in Doha.

Meanwhile, the evacuation of the embattled Shifa clinic in Gaza, which World Health Organization (WHO) officials described as a “death zone” after a visit over the weekend, is progressing. Around 30 premature babies were transferred to the south of the Gaza Strip.

According to the media, more than 80 hostages could soon be released

According to media reports from the USA and Israel, there could be an agreement on a five-day ceasefire and more humanitarian aid in the sealed-off, approximately 40-kilometer-long coastal strip – and in return, the release of dozens of hostages.

In total, around 240 people were kidnapped by terrorists on October 7th into the Gaza Strip, where, according to Israeli information, they are also being held in Hamas’ extensive tunnel system. On Saturday, tens of thousands of people in Israel reached Jerusalem in a day-long protest march demanding a quick deal for their release. They also demonstrated in front of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s official residence.

There was initially no official confirmation from Israel of an impending hostage agreement. The broadcaster N12 reported that 87 hostages were about to be released, including 53 women, children and young people as well as 34 foreigners. In return, Israel must commit to a five-day break in fighting and to the release of female and minor Palestinian prisoners as well as so-called security prisoners. It is unclear how many prisoners were involved. According to the report, the Islamist Hamas is also demanding the import of more fuel into the sealed-off coastal strip, which is important for, among other things, electricity.

USA: Closer to agreement on hostage release than ever before

U.S. Deputy National Security Advisor Jon Finer said on U.S. television that there was no agreement yet to release the hostages, but that they were closer to an agreement at this point “than we have perhaps ever been since these negotiations weeks ago have begun”. “There are areas where the disagreements have been reduced, if not eliminated,” he said.

The number of victims in the Gaza Strip continues to rise

The hostages were kidnapped as part of the massacre in Israel on October 7th that left 1,200 dead. In response, Israel began massive airstrikes and launched a ground offensive in the northern Gaza Strip in late October. According to the Hamas-controlled health authority, more than 12,300 people have been killed so far. Around 30,000 people were injured. The numbers cannot currently be independently verified.

Many dead in attacks in the south

According to a clinic, at least 47 people were killed in Israeli attacks in the town of Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip. This emerged from statistics from Nasser Hospital. A photographer reported to the German Press Agency about many body bags lined up in the clinic. One picture showed a father holding the body of his young son. The Israeli army has not yet released any information about this.

Israeli Defense Minister Joav Galant announced on Saturday that attacks against Hamas and other terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip would soon be expanded to the south. The military has been calling on northern residents for more than a month to flee to a southern zone west of Khan Yunis on the Mediterranean. According to the UN, around 10,000 people fled from the north to the south on Saturday alone.

Numerous people are said to have died when a bullet hit a UN school in the northern Gaza Strip on Saturday. A spokesman for the Hamas authorities reported many deaths and injuries at the school in the refugee district of Jabalia. He accused the Israeli army of attacking the building. The military said it was checking the reports. The head of the UN Palestinian Relief Agency (UNRWA), Philippe Lazzarini, wrote to X that he had received terrible images and videos of the dead and injured. At least 24 people were reportedly killed. Up to 7,000 people sought refuge in the school from the shelling, UNRWA said.

More than 30 premature babies evacuated from Gaza City

On Sunday, 31 premature babies were evacuated from the Shifa Hospital in the city of Gaza, which has been under dispute for days. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), they were admitted to the intensive care unit of the maternity hospital at the Emirati Al-Hilal Hospital in the southern city of Rafah, near the border with Egypt.

The conditions in Shifa Hospital, where Israeli soldiers have been searching for terrorist hideouts for days, are described as devastating. According to its own information, the WHO is also working hard to rescue the remaining patients from the Shifa Hospital. According to the WHO, around 2,500 internally displaced people who had sought protection in the clinic complex, as well as staff and mobile patients, fled to the south of the Gaza Strip on Saturday following an evacuation call by the Israeli military. There are now said to be around 25 employees and more than 250 patients in the clinic.

France announced that it would take in sick and injured children. The Elysee Palace in Paris said it would use all available resources to help bring the children to French hospitals.

Biden supports a two-state solution

US President Joe Biden once again spoke out in favor of a so-called two-state solution in the Middle East conflict and outlined how he imagines the time after the end of the Gaza war. In an opinion piece published in the Washington Post on Saturday, he also brought up sanctions against extremist settlers in the West Bank. The Democrat once again criticized “the extremist violence against Palestinians in the West Bank.”

In the long post, Biden recorded what he believes the future in the region should look like. “This much is clear: a two-state solution is the only way to ensure the long-term security of both the Israeli and Palestinian people,” Biden wrote. “While it may seem at the moment that this future has never been further away, the crisis has made it more urgent than ever.”

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called for an immediate end to the war in the Gaza Strip on Saturday evening. In a televised address, he called on Biden to “intervene and stop this aggression immediately.”


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