Israel-Hamas Close to Deal to Free Hostages, Pause Fighting

The pause would be for five days and allow dozens of women and children to be freed from captivity

A police station destroyed after a battle between Israeli troops and Hamas militants, as seen on Oct. 8, 2023. (Footage by Amir Levy/Getty Images)

Israel and Hamas are near a tentative deal to pause their ongoing conflict. White House National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson wrote Saturday on X (formerly Twitter) that work on a deal is underway. The deal, brokered by the United States, would come in exchange for the release of dozens of women and children kidnapped from Israel who have been held hostage.

“We have not reached a deal yet, but we continue to work hard to get a deal,” Watson wrote.

The deal would include a five-day pause in fighting, the Washington Post reports, citing people familiar with the terms of a detailed six-page tentative agreement. Watson quoted the Post story in her own tweet. This pause and prisoner release could begin within the next several days and would mark the first sustained pause in the conflict since the Oct. 7 attacks by Hamas on Israel.

The deal was outlined over weeks of talks between Israel, the U.S. and Hamas in Qatar. The parties were indirectly represented by Qatari mediators, the Post reports, citing both Arab and other diplomats. The change that’s made it possible to get close to a deal is Israel agreeing to put a temporary pause on its offensive under the right conditions, according to the Post. However, the paper notes, the Israeli Embassy in Washington has declined to comment.

Public discussions over a humanitarian pause versus a ceasefire have been a hot topic in recent days. U.S. President Joe Biden wrote an opinion piece for the Washington Post earlier Saturday in which he discussed his call for humanitarian pauses.

“I’ve also advocated for humanitarian pauses in the conflict to permit civilians to depart areas of active fighting and to help ensure that aid reaches those in need,” the piece reads. “Israel took the additional step to create two humanitarian corridors and implement daily four-hour pauses in the fighting in northern Gaza to allow Palestinian civilians to flee to safer areas in the south.”

The fighting began with terrorist group Hamas’ attack on Israel that left more than a thousand dead, leading Israel to respond with an aggressive bombing campaign on Gaza that has left thousands more dead. The Palestinian Ministry of Health in Hamas-controlled Gaza has said that the Israeli strikes have killed more than 10,000, including more than 4,000 minors and 3,000 women, but those numbers have been disputed by U.S. and Israeli officials. However, the Biden administration has acknowledged that thousands of Palestinian civilians have been killed.


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