Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh affirmed on Tuesday that reaching a truce agreement with Israel is “close.”
“The movement has submitted its response to the brothers in Qatar and the mediators, and we are approaching a truce agreement,” Haniyeh said on Telegram without providing further details.
It is worth noting that several relatives of the Israeli hostages held by Hamas withdrew from a meeting with members of the Israeli government on Monday evening.
Israeli daily Haaretz reported that “many relatives of Israelis held hostage by Hamas in Gaza withdrew from a meeting with members of the war government on Monday, expressing disappointment when told that the goals of freeing the hostages and overthrowing Hamas are equally important.”
Since Israel started bombing Gaza after a surprise Oct. 7 attack by the Palestinian group Hamas, at least 13,000 Palestinians have been killed, including over 9,000 women and children, and more than 30,000 others have been injured, according to the latest figures by Palestinian authorities.
Thousands of buildings, including hospitals, mosques, and churches, have also been damaged or destroyed in Israel’s relentless air and ground attacks on the besieged enclave.
An Israeli blockade has also cut Gaza off from fuel, electricity, and water supplies, and reduced aid deliveries to a small trickle.
The Israeli death toll is around 1,200, according to official figures.
Tel Aviv has so far rejected growing calls for a cease-fire until the release of hostages held by Hamas.