Israel studying Hamas response to Gaza ceasefire proposal, says Mossad

JERUSALEM (Reuters) -Israel is studying Hamas’ response to a proposal that would include a hostage release deal and ceasefire in Gaza, according to a statement from Israel’s Mossad spy agency.

“The mediators of the hostage deal have given the negotiating team Hamas’ response to the hostage deal outline. Israel is examining the response and will respond to the mediators,” said a statement released by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office, on behalf of Mossad.

The statement gave no further details.

Hamas in a statement said that Ismail Haniyeh, the Hamas leader based in Qatar, spoke with mediators in Qatar and Egypt regarding the ideas being discussed by the movement in order to reach an agreement to end the nine-month-old war. It added that talks have also been held with Turkish officials regarding recent developments.

“The movement has engaged positively with the essence of the ongoing deliberations,” it said.

Mediators including Egypt, Qatar and the United States have been trying for months to secure a ceasefire and the release of 120 remaining hostages in Gaza, but their efforts have stalled.

Hamas says any deal must end the war and bring a full Israeli withdrawal from Gaza. Israel says it will accept only temporary pauses in the fighting until Hamas is eradicated.

The war in Gaza began when Hamas gunmen burst into southern Israel on Oct. 7, killed 1,200 people and took around 250 hostages back into Gaza, according to Israeli tallies. The offensive launched by Israel in retaliation has killed nearly 38,000 people, according to the Gaza health ministry, and has left the heavily built-up coastal enclave in ruins.

The ceasefire plan on the table, which was made public at the end of May by U.S. President Joe Biden, entails the gradual release of Israeli hostages held in Gaza and pullback of Israeli forces over two phases.

It also envisages the freeing of Palestinian prisoners, with the reconstruction of Gaza and the return of the remains of deceased hostages in a third phase.

(Reporting by Maayan Lubell; Additional reporting by Nidal Al Mughrabi and Steven Scheer;Editing by Chris Reese, William Maclean, Gareth Jones and Cynthia Osterman)

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