Reports from Israel’s leading television news channels on Sunday indicate significant strides in negotiations, aiming at an agreement for the release of individuals currently detained by Hamas in Gaza.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he would not discuss the details of any potential agreement, which, according to Channel 12 news, would involve the release of between 50 to 100 women, children, and elderly in stages during a three to five-day ceasefire.
According to reports from the news channels, which did not cite their sources, Israel will release Palestinian prisoners, including women and minors from its prisons, and will consider allowing fuel entry into Gaza, while retaining the right to resume fighting after the agreement.
Reuters quoted a spokesman for the Israeli army saying, “Multiple efforts are being made to release the detainees in Gaza.”
For the second consecutive week, thousands of protesters gathered on Saturday evening in front of the central military headquarters in Tel Aviv to express their frustration with the Israeli government’s handling of the hostage situation in Gaza, urging immediate action to secure their release.
The demonstrators carried pictures of the hostages and listened to speeches by their family members, in the largest gathering in Israel since the Hamas attack on October 7, which resulted in the death of about 1,200 people, mostly civilians, in addition to the abduction of 239 people, including children, women, and soldiers.
So far, Hamas has released four hostages, and Israeli forces have rescued another.
Residents of Gaza said that the Israeli forces, which are waging a war to eliminate Hamas following its bloody cross-border attack on October 7, clashed with Hamas militants throughout the night in and around Gaza City, where Al-Shifa Hospital, the largest hospital in Gaza, is located.
Ashraf Al-Qudra, the spokesman for the Ministry of Health in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, said the hospital had stopped operations after running out of fuel. He added that two infants died in the incubator as a result. He also mentioned that there are 45 infants in total.
In response to a question about evacuating the children, Al-Qudra said, “We have not yet been informed of any mechanism on how to transfer the children to a safe place outside the hospital. So far, we are praying that they do not suffer any harm or lose any of them.”
Earlier, the World Health Organization expressed “grave concern” for the safety of everyone trapped in the hospital due to the fighting and said it had lost contact with its communication officials there.
Israel said that doctors, patients, and thousands of evacuees, who sought refuge in hospitals in northern Gaza, must leave so it can deal with Hamas militants, whom it says have set up command centers under and around these hospitals.
Hamas denies using hospitals in this manner. Medical staff say patients might die if moved, and Palestinian officials say Israeli fire makes leaving dangerous for others.
A doctor at Al-Shifa Hospital said that the bombing has been continuous for more than 24 hours. He added that most of the hospital staff and people who sought refuge there have left, but 500 patients remain.
Saraya Al-Quds, the military wing of the Islamic Jihad movement allied with Hamas, said it was “engaged in fierce clashes in the vicinity of the Al-Shifa medical complex and Al-Nasr neighborhood and Al-Shati camp in Gaza.”
Al-Nasr neighborhood houses several large hospitals.
Israel earlier said it killed a Hamas “terrorist” it claimed prevented the evacuation of another hospital in the north, which Palestinian officials said was out of service and surrounded by tanks.
Islamic and Arab countries, which met in Saudi Arabia in an unusual Arab-Islamic summit on Saturday, called for an immediate halt to military operations in Gaza, rejecting Israel’s justification that it is doing so in self-defense.
A statement issued by the summit urged the International Criminal Court to investigate “war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by Israel.”