Israeli government sources have told Euronews a deal to release people kidnapped by Hamas militants in Israel on 7 October is almost completed. Our correspondent Shona Murray said it is also understood the White House is pressuring Israel to ease the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip.
More than six weeks after they were kidnapped, Israeli government sources said a conditional agreement to free more than 240 people held by the Hamas militant group is nearing completion.
It is expected that 40 children and about 20 women and elderly people will be freed in exchange for a three to five-day ceasefire, and the release of Palestinians detained in Israeli jails.
Families of the hostages are mounting pressure on the Israeli government to get the deal done.
Hamas has freed four hostages, including 85-year-old Yocheved Lifshitz who was returned to her family last month.
Her 83-year-old husband, Oded Lifshitz remains a hostage.
It is believed those kidnapped by Hamas – which includes foreign nationals – are being kept in tunnels in the Gaza Strip.
Yocheved and Oded’s daughter, Sharone Lifshitz said the Hamas attack and hostage-taking has traumatised Israelis.
”So many in our community are dead. So many are hostages. Our home is burned. Our community is dispersed across the country. My mother’s heart is in Gaza with the other people there,” she said.
”I think that how she was treated is like one little bit of a story in which there were horrific crimes. We have people that have been mutilated and burned alive.”
While Yocheved Lifshitz said she held no ill will towards the Palestinian people after her ordeal, her daughter said the same could not be said for Hamas.
”The whole of Gaza is taken hostage by Hamas. These people are criminals. They are a terrorist organisation that is worse than ISIS, worse than Boko Haram. The crimes they’ve committed are impossible to even say on the evening news.
”These people my mother has no affinity with. She knows many people in Gaza. She met them over the years. She had seen that like us, they are human beings.”
Israeli government sources have also told Euronews the White House is increasing pressure on Israel to ease the humanitarian disaster unfolding in the Gaza Strip and to allow more fuel into the besieged territory so that hospitals can function.