Israel-Hamas latest updates: Talks of Gaza truce at ‘critical stage’

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This picture taken from southern Israel near the border with the Gaza Strip shows smoke billowing after an Israeli strike in north Gaza on November 22, 2023, amid ongoing battles between Israel and the Palestinian Hamas movement. (Photo by JACK GUEZ / AFP) (Photo by JACK GUEZ/AFP via Getty Images)
Hostage release talks between Hamas and Israel are said to be at a 'critical and final' stage as the conflict in Gaza continued into its seventh week. (AFP via Getty Images) (JACK GUEZ via Getty Images)

Hostage release talks between Hamas and Israel are at a "critical and final stage", according to the Qatari foreign ministry as Israel continued its bombardment of Gaza.

"We are at the closest point we ever had been in reaching an agreement," Qatar foreign ministry spokesperson Majed Al-Ansari told The Times of Israel.

His comments came as Hamas' leader claimed they are "close to reaching a truce agreement with Israel" that is believed to include a hostage exchange of women and children.

Ismail Haniyeh made the comments in a statement by his aide to Reuters, but did not provide further details, however a Hamas official said in conversation with Al Jazeera that the details being discussed involved the length of a ceasefire, aid delivery and hostage exchange.

His comments came as Israel's intense aerial bombardment of Gaza continued, with the current conflict entering its seventh week, following the unprecedented attack on Israel by Hamas on 7 October.

More than 1,400 people were killed in Israel in the attack, and at least 200 taken hostage. Israel's attacks on Gaza have killed more than 12,000 people – 5,500 of whom are children.

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  • Biden says hostages 'close' to being released

  • 'Bones' of truce agreement exists, says Irish deputy premier

    Ireland’s deputy premier has said “the bones of an agreement” on the release of hostages by Hamas exists, PA reports.

    Nine-year-old Irish-Israeli child Emily Hand is believed to be among the hostages.

    Speaking to reporters in Dublin, Micheal Martin said: “We want all hostages released. We have raised the case of Emily Hand with all of the key governments and agencies which may have influence and channels with people who could affect the release of hostages and particularly Emily Hand.

    “We have prioritised the release of children and older people and that is our focus. I hope and I pray that Emily Hand will be freed along with other hostages.

    “The International Committee of the Red Cross and Red Crescent have not had access to the hostages, I understand, in terms of verification and proof of life of any hostage – and that obviously remains a matter of deep anxiety for the families of all involved.”

    He added: “We know that the bones of an agreement is there. I think what we’re all waiting for now is the realisation of it and the release of hostages.”

  • Egypt accuses Israel forcing Palestinians to leave by bombing southern Gaza

    Israel has a “clear objective” of forcing displaced people in Gaza to leave the territory by bombing its southern region, Egypt’s foreign ministry has said.

    "Egypt has clearly declared its utter rejection of any enforced displacement attempt of Palestinians," the ministry's spokesman posted on X, formerly Twitter.

    Israel issued an evacuation order in parts of southern Gaza last week, having told Palestinians earlier in the war to flee the north ahead of bombardments aimed at eliminating Hamas.

    Pointing towards an expansion of the IDF’s operation on Friday, Israel’s chief military spokesperson, Rear Adm Daniel Hagari, told reporters that troops would attack “wherever Hamas exists, including in the south of the strip”.

    Egypt’s Rafah border crossing, by southern Gaza, has served as a lifeline for Palestinians as it allows the delivery of aid.

    It has also been used to get foreign passport holders and some wounded Palestinians out of Gaza.

  • Hope, but no relief yet for desperate Palestinian or Israeli families

    The dizzying death toll in the Gaza Strip — around 13,000 people, according to officials in the Hamas-run Palestinian territory — and the increasingly dire situation for more than 2 million civilians trapped in the enclave have fuelled mounting calls for a cease-fire in the Israel-Hamas war, and representatives have been working around the clock for weeks toward an agreement during complicated negotiations in Qatar.

    Read the full story from CBS News

  • Deal to free 50 hostages in Gaza ‘closer than it has ever been’

    A source close to ongoing negotiations has said an agreement to free hostages is in its “final stages” and “closer than it has ever been”.

    The deal is expected to include the release of around 50 civilian hostages in exchange for female and minor-aged Palestinian detainees from Israeli custody.

    It will also likely include a multi-day pause in fighting and the delivery of aid to Gaza.

    A Hamas official told Al Jazeera TV that negotiations were cantered on how long the truce would last, arrangements for delivery of aid into Gaza and details of the exchange of captives.

    Both sides would free women and children and details would be announced by Qatar, which is mediating in the negotiations, said the official.

    Israel has remained more tight-lipped on the talks, but the country’s Channel 12 and Channel 13 TV stations quoted unidentified officials as saying a deal could be reached “within hours”.

  • ‘Israeli strike on car kills four people, Lebanese state media reports

    Israel has launched another strike on Lebanon near the border – this time killing for people, Lebanese media reports.

    The strike on Tuesday hit a car near the southern city of Tyre, according to Lebanese state news agency NNA.

    It followed reports of another strike in the nearby town of Tayr Harfa, which Lebanese media said killed two journalists from a TV crew and a third person.

    Since the latest Israel-Hamas conflict began on 7 October, border clashes between the IDF and Lebanese Hezbollah fighters have been at their worst since a war in 2006.

    Cross-border strikes have killed more than 70 Hezbollah militants, 13 Lebanese civilians, seven Israeli troops and three Israeli civilians.

  • Lebanese PM accuses Israel of trying to ‘silence media’ with strike that killed journalists

    Lebanon’s caretaker prime minister Najib Mikati has accused Israel of attempting to “silence the media” following a strike that killed two reporters and one other person near the border.

    Lebanese state media and the channel, Al Mayadeen, claimed the strike, near the town of Tayr Harfa, had deliberately targeted its TV crew because the channel is pro-Palestinian and pro-Iran's regional military alliance.

    Mikati was reported by local media as saying: "This attack proves once more that Israeli crimes know no limit and that (Israel's) aim is to silence the media who expose its crimes and its attacks.”

    Israel is yet to comment on the strike – the latest in a series of border clashes following rocket attacks by Lebanese militants from Hezbollah, who are allies of Hamas and Iran.

    The border clashes have fuelled concerns among the West of the Israel-Hamas conflict spilling out further across the Middle East region.

  • EU faces growing Muslim animosity over Gaza war stance - Borrell

  • MSPs set to back motion calling for ‘immediate ceasefire’ in Gaza

    Scottish first minister Humza Yousaf will lead a debate on a ceasefire in Gaza today which MSPs are expected to support.

    The SNP leader tabled a motion calling for an “immediate ceasefire” in the conflict, while also condemning the “barbaric and unjustifiable” Hamas attacks of 7 October and demanding the release of hostages.

    Yousaf said the vote was an “opportunity to unite to send a message of peace to world leaders”, adding that a ceasefire is “the only way to end the tragic deaths of civilians”.

    Yousaf’s in-laws, Elizabeth and Maged El-Nakla, visited family ahead of the 7 October attack, initially becoming trapped in Gaza when the conflict started before fleeing to Egypt via the Rafah crossing.

    The pair had to leave family in the region, including their son, who works as a doctor, and who Yousaf said was in a “terrible way”.

    Scottish Labour confirmed on Monday the party would back the calls for a ceasefire, while a report in The Scotsman newspaper claimed the Scottish Lib Dems would also vote in favour.

  • ‘Why can’t I get them out?’: Palestinian Americans who fled Gaza devastated over leaving family behind

    The day after the border between Gaza and Egypt opened, the Abushaabans left the Khan Younis refugee camp and headed for the Rafah crossing.

    With the crackle and thump of gunfire and airstrikes in the distance, the two women walked south, praying that their names were on a list of American nationals allowed to enter Egypt and that they would soon be able to go back to their home in Houston, Texas.

    Half of those prayers was answered. The elder Abushaaban was on the list, but her 20-year-old daughter was not.

    Read the full story from The Guardian here

  • WHO planning to evacuate three besieged hospitals in Gaza

    The World Health Organisation has said three hospitals in Gaza have asked for its help in evacuating patients and that planning is underway.

    Describing evacuations as a last resort at a briefing in Geneva, WHO spokesperson Christian Lindmeier said: "It's robbing the entire population of the north of the means to seek health [care],"

    The three hospitals were Al Shifa, from which a group of premature babies has already been rescued, the Indonesian Hospital and Al Ahli Hospital.

    "So far it's only in planning stages with no further details," Lindmeier added.

  • Hamas close to truce with Israel, leader says

  • New coalition of Muslim countries ‘to push for Gaza ceasefire’

    A new group of officials from several Muslim countries will visit the United Nations Security Council’s five permanent members calling for a Gaza ceasefire, a Turkish foreign ministry source said.

    The coalition is understood to have been formed earlier this month at a summit of the Arab League and Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Riyadh

    It includes foreign ministers and representatives from Turkey, Qatar, Egypt, Jordan, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, the Palestinian Authority, as well as the OIC secretary general.

    The source said the group had started talking with the United States, China, Russia, Britain, and France - with a visit to Beijing on Monday, and would also visit other countries.

    They said the “primary goal” is to help secure a ceasefire and aid deliveries to Gaza, while the “end goal” is to contribute to an acceptable two-state solution.

    The group will meet Rishi Sunak and French president Emmanuel Macron during visits to Britain and France on Wednesday, the source added.

  • Israel-Gaza war is deadliest on record for journalists, watchdog says

    At least 50 journalists have been killed in Israel’s latest war with Hamas, making it the deadliest month for the profession since statistics began in 1992.

    The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said the second-deadliest day for journalists was on 18 November, when five were killed.

    The watchdog said the first day of the war, 7 October, was the deadliest, with six journalists killed.

    Here are some of its figures (as of 21 November):

    · 50 journalists and media workers were confirmed dead: 45 Palestinian, 4 Israeli, and 1 Lebanese.

    · 11 journalists were reported injured.

    · Three journalists were reported missing.

    · 18 journalists were reported arrested.

    · Multiple assaults, threats, cyberattacks, censorship, and killings of family members.

    You can read more about the CPJ’s findings here.

  • Investigation over Lebanon airstrike

  • Two reporters and one other person killed in strike in Lebanon

    Two journalists and a third person were killed by a rocket strike near Lebanon's border with Israel on Tuesday, the Lebanese state news agency reported.

    The agency said the incident took place near the town of Tir Harfa, about a mile from the Israeli frontier.

    It follows a report by the Committee to Protect Journalists describing the Israel-Hamas war as the deadliest for journalists since records began three decades ago.

    Lebanon's Al Mayadeen TV, which the two killed reporters were working for, reported that Israel had carried out the attack and deliberately targeted the journalists.

    Israel's military did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

    Fighting between Israel and Iran-backed Lebanese group Hezbollah – an ally of Hamas – has raised fears of the conflict spilling elsewhere in the Middle East and drawing in both the United States and Iran.

    The latest border violence has killed more than 70 Hezbollah fighters, 13 Lebanese civilians, seven Israeli troops and three Israeli civilians.

  • Hamas says it is ‘close to reaching truce agreement’ with Israel

    Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh has said the Islamist group “close to reaching a truce agreement” with Israel and has delivered its response to Qatari mediators.

    His statement gave no more details, but a Hamas official told Al Jazeera that negotiations the deal would include the release of female and child hostages from Gaza.

    This is likely to be in exchange for the freeing of women and children being held in Israeli jails, with details of the final agreement expected to be announced by Qatar.

    The official said the truce would last a “number of days” and would also include the entry of aid into Gaza.

    Israel is yet to comment, but the country’s Channel 12 television quoted an unidentified senior government source saying "they are close" but giving no further details.

    Around 240 hostages were taken by Hamas gunmen and dragged back to Gaza during the militant group’s 7 October attack, which saw 1,200 people in Israel killed.

  • IDF releases more footage claiming al Shifa hospital connected to Hamas tunnels

  • Patients evacuated from Gaza's Indonesian Hospital

    Tens of Palestinian patients were evacuated late on Monday (November 20) from Gaza's Indonesian Hospital to al-Nasser hospital in Khan Younis, Reuters reports.

    Gaza's health ministry said on Monday that at least 12 Palestinians were killed and dozens wounded by firing into an Indonesian-built hospital encircled by Israeli tanks. Israel says it shot back at fighters who opened fire from inside it.

    Health officials said 700 patients along with staff were under Israeli fire, and have denied any fighters were present.

    The health ministry released a video on Tuesday (November 21) showing buses arriving at al-Nasser hospital and patients being moved into the crowded emergency room.

    Reuters was able to confirm the location of the video from the nearby buildings, greenery, interior decoration, and road layout which matched the file image and satellite image. Reuters was not able to independently confirm the date the videos were filmed.

    World Health Organisation chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he was "appalled" by the attack that he too said had killed 12 people, including patients, citing unspecified reports.

  • 'We've been waiting for you', says dad whose daughter is being held by Hamas

Recommended reading

  • Where is Gaza and who lives there? Map shows location of Palestinian territory (Read more)

  • The Israel-Hamas conflict explained (Read more)

  • Have war crimes been committed in Israel and Gaza? (Read more)

  • What is Hezbollah, the group backing Hamas against Israel? (Read more)

  • What is the Palestinian group Hamas? (Read more)

  • Israel-Hamas War: What Is The Two-State Solution? (Read more)