Netanyahu, US rubbish report that hostage deal close

Overnight, a report by the Washington Post claimed a deal was close between the US, Israel and Hamas regarding a temporary ceasefire to allow the exchange of some of the hostages. 

Under the agreement, all parties would freeze combat operations for at least five days while 50 or more hostages are released in groups every 24 hours, the Post reported. 

The pause would also allow a significant amount of humanitarian aid into the enclave, the newspaper said, adding the outline for the deal was put together during weeks of talks in Qatar – with leaders there acting as key mediators between the warring parties since the outbreak of hostilities.

However, the White House poured cold water on the report during a briefing, but said talks were ongoing. 

“No deal yet but we continue to work hard to get a deal,” said Adrienne Watson, a spokeswoman for the White House’s National Security Council.

Prime Minister Netanyahu also rubbished any suggestion a deal had been reached. 

“Concerning the hostages, there are many unsubstantiated rumours, many incorrect reports,” he said. 

“I would like to make it clear – as of now, there has been no deal, but I want to promise [that] when there is something to say – we will report to you about it.”

Yesterday, a huge march in Israel concluded with protesters standing outside the house of Mr Netanyahu calling for him to do more to secure the release of the hostages – who number around 240. 

Channel 12 news claimed there were some 30,000 marchers.

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