Hamas leader Haniyeh says Gaza truce deal with Israel close

Pause in fighting would allow much-needed aid into the besieged Gaza Strip

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Hamas is close to an agreement with Israel on a temporary truce allowing entry of aid into the Gaza Strip and a swap of hostages and prisoners between the two sides, the group's leader said on Tuesday.

The two sides were "close to reaching a truce agreement", Ismail Haniyeh told Reuters.

Hamas official Izzat El Reshiq told Al Jazeera TV on Tuesday that talks were already under way.

"The expected agreement will include the release of Israeli women and children hostages in exchange for release of Palestinian children and women in the occupation's prisons," Mr El Reshiq said.

The details of the truce will be announced by Qatari officials, he said.

There were no more details about the terms of the potential agreement.

The statement comes after 17 Palestinians were killed in Israeli bombardment of Nuseirat camp in Gaza at midnight, the Palestinian official news agency Wafa said early on Tuesday.

Fighting continued across Gaza, with the biggest clashes coming in the north of the enclave on Tuesday morning, witnesses told The National.

Air raid sirens could be heard around Abu Yousef Al Najar hospital in the south, while heavy air strikes hit areas near the Jabalia refugee camp and the city of Biet Lahya in the north.

About 130 injured people, most of them women and children, and around 70 dead bodies were received at the Shuhdaa Alaqsa hospital in Dier Al Balah, a hospital representative said.

Israeli tanks were still surrounding the Indonesian Hospital on Tuesday morning, the Gaza Health Ministry said on Tuesday morning. The hospital was using cooking oil to run its generator, it said.

Killings in Gaza 'unparalleled and unprecedented', says UN chief

Killings in Gaza 'unparalleled and unprecedented', says UN chief

On Monday, US President Joe Biden said he believed a truce agreement was near.

"We're closer now than we've been before," White House spokesman John Kirby said.

Hamas took about 240 hostages during its October 7 rampage into Israel that killed about 1,200 people.

Mirjana Spoljaric, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), met Mr Haniyeh in Qatar on Monday to "advance humanitarian issues" related to the conflict, the Geneva-based ICRC said. She also met separately with Qatari authorities.

The ICRC said it was not part of negotiations aimed at releasing the hostages, but as a neutral intermediary it was ready "to facilitate any future release that the parties agree to".

Qatari mediators had been seeking a deal for Hamas and Israel to exchange 50 hostages in return for a three-day ceasefire that would boost emergency aid shipments to Gaza civilians, Reuters said.

Updated: November 21, 2023, 7:14 AM