Israeli hopeful for the release of hostages by Hamas in the Coming days.



The Israeli ambassador to the US says he is hopeful a deal for the release of a significant number of hostages will be reached “in the coming days”.

Michael Herzog told ABC “serious efforts” were being made, but that the fewer details he revealed, “the better the chances of such a deal”.

Hamas took an estimated 240 people hostage during their 7 October attacks which killed 1,200 Israelis.

Qatar, which has been mediating, also says a deal is within reach.

The Washington Post newspaper has reported that Israel and Hamas are “close to agreement on a US-brokered deal that would free dozens of women and children held hostage in Gaza in exchange for a five-day pause in fighting”, citing “people familiar with the emerging terms”.

“We want answers,” said protester Ari Levi, who had two family members – including his 12-year-old son – taken by Hamas from kibbutz Nir Oz on 7 October.

“It’s not normal to have children kidnapped for 43 days. We don’t know what the government is doing, we don’t have any information,” Mr Levi told the AFP news agency.

“I want the government to bring them home to us,” said Dvora Cohen, 43, whose brother-in-law and 12-year-old nephew are both believed to be held by Hamas.

This week Israel’s military said it had found the bodies of two hostages  – 65-year-old Yehudit Weiss and 19-year-old soldier Noa Marciano – in the Gaza Strip.

Israel has launched a massive retaliatory operation – involving air and artillery strikes as well as ground troops – with the aim of eliminating Hamas.

The Hamas-run health ministry says the death toll in Gaza since then has reached 12,300. More than 2,000 more are feared to be buried under rubble.