U.S. President Joe Biden said on Monday he believes a deal is near to secure the release of some of the hostages being held by Hamas in Gaza, telling reporters “I believe so” when asked at the White House about a possible agreement.
Reuters reported last week that Qatari mediators had been seeking a deal between Israel and Hamas to exchange 50 hostages in return for a three-day ceasefire that would help boost emergency aid shipments to Gaza civilians, citing an official briefed on the talks.
About 240 hostages were taken during Hamas’s deadly cross-border rampage into Israel on Oct. 7, which prompted Israel to invade the tiny Palestinian territory to wipe out the Islamist militant group.
About 1,200 people, mostly civilians, were killed in the Hamas assault, according to Israeli tallies, the deadliest day in Israel’s 75-year-old history.
Since then, Gaza’s Hamas-run government said at least 13,000 Palestinians have been killed, including at least 5,500 children, by unrelenting Israeli bombardment.
Despite ongoing fighting, Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Michael Herzog, told ABC News on Sunday that Israel was hopeful a significant number of hostages could be released by Hamas “in coming days.”