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Israel reportedly ready to free 800 prisoners, incl. 100 murderers for 40 hostages; waiting on Hamas response

Israeli sources estimating a 50/50 chance for successful deal

People walk by photographs of Israelis still held hostage by Hamas terrorists in Gaza, at "Hostage Square" in Tel Aviv. March 19, 2024. (Photo: Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Israel agreed to a U.S. proposal to free 800 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for 40 Israeli hostages held by the Hamas terror group in Gaza, Israeli media reported on Sunday evening.

Israel, along with Qatari, Egyptian, and American intermediaries, has forwarded a proposal outlining the terms of the agreement to Hamas and is now awaiting a response, which is expected to take three to four days.

The offer to release up to 800 prisoners represents a twofold increase from the offer made during the Paris talks and is among multiple concessions Israel has made in the ongoing negotiations.

In addition to the overall number, Israel agreed to release around 100 convicted murderers and, for the first time, signaled its readiness to discuss the return of residents to the northern Gaza Strip, previously thought to be a red line.

The U.S. proposal includes an agreement for the return of several residents per day along with a mechanism for deciding who will be permitted entry into northern Gaza.

Israel’s red lines in the current negotiations are a complete return of residents to northern Gaza, a complete withdrawal of troops from the enclave, and an end to the war.

Despite significant concessions, Israeli officials told the Times of Israel on Monday that they view the prospects of the current negotiations' success as evenly split, estimating a 50/50 chance.

The current talks focus on the first phase of an agreement that would release 40 Israeli hostages, mainly women, children, the sick and the elderly, during a 6-week truce.

The majority of the remaining captives in Gaza are male and female IDF soldiers and Hamas is demanding significantly greater concessions for their release.

Another contested point is Israel's insistence on exiling high-profile prisoners released under the deal, instead of allowing them to return to the West Bank or the Gaza Strip, Al Jazeera reported.

After Israel agreed to the latest proposal, the Israeli delegation - led by Mossad Director David Barnea - and CIA chief Bill Burns left the Qatari capital of Doha, according to media reports.

The decision now rests with Hamas, as all involved parties await the response from Yahya Sinwar, the leader of Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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