November 30, 2023

US top presidential adviser Brett McGurk visited Israel on Wednesday. Qatar reportedly mediated a deal for the release of 50 Hamas-held captives in exchange for a three-day or five-day ceasefire in Gaza. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with McGurk in Tel Aviv and discussed the range of issues regarding the war while emphasizing the release of the hostages. An official briefed on the negotiations told Reuters that the deal, coordinated with the US, would see Israel release some Palestinian women and minors under 18 held in Israeli jails for security-related offenses. According to KAN, there are 194 prisoners in Israeli jails that fit this category. The deal would also involve increasing the amount of humanitarian aid allowed into Gaza. Israel has pushed back at talk of a prolonged ceasefire and has stressed the importance of releasing all the hostages. Hamas has agreed to the general outlines of this deal, but Israel is still negotiating the details. It is not known how many Palestinian women and minors Israel would release from its jails as part of the agreement under discussion. Such a deal would also require Hamas to hand over a complete list of remaining living civilian hostages held in Gaza. Minister Benny Gantz stated that “Even if we are required to pause fighting in order to return our hostages, there will be no stopping the combat and the war until we achieve our goals.” US President Joe Biden has repeatedly stated that the release of the hostages is a top priority for him. On Wednesday, Netanyahu’s wife, Sara, wrote a letter to first lady Jill Biden, asking her to call for the immediate release of all the hostages, including 32 children. The Qatari Ministry of Foreign Affairs declined to comment. McGurk is slated to visit Qatar while in the region. Qatar, where Hamas operates a political office, has been leading mediation between the Islamist terrorist group and Israeli officials for the release of more than 239 hostages seized by Hamas on October 7 when it infiltrated southern Israel.