The White House Deputy National Security Adviser Jon Finer said an agreement to free “considerably more than 12” hostages in Gaza by Hamas militants is closer than ever in the Islamist group’s war with Israel. This deal would also likely include an extended pause in the fighting and allow for the distribution of humanitarian assistance in Gaza. On Sunday, fighting persisted, with Hamas militants battling Israeli forces trying to push into Gaza’s largest refugee camp. According to Finer, outstanding areas of disagreement in the negotiation have been narrowed, and a deal is closer than it has been in quite some time. Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Herzog also said that Israel is hopeful a significant number of hostages could be released by Hamas in the coming days. However, Finer cautioned that sensitive negotiations like this can fall apart at the last minute. Hamas took about 240 hostages during its cross-border rampage into Israeli communities on Oct. 7, which prompted Israel to lay siege to Gaza and invade the Palestinian territory. Finer also said that Israel should not conduct combat operations against Hamas in the south of Gaza until the safety of fleeing Palestinian civilians has been taken into account in military planning. He emphasized that Israel’s operations should not go forward until additional civilians have been accounted for in their military planning.