Premature to say deal reached on prisoner exchange with Hamas: Israeli premier

Premature to say deal reached on prisoner exchange with Hamas: Israeli premier

'I cannot make a commitment regarding reaching an agreement at this time,' says Benjamin Netanyahu

By Said Amouri

JERUSALEM (AA) - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday it is premature to say Tel Aviv has reached an agreement on a prisoner exchange with Hamas.

"We demand to know the names of all prisoners who will be part of the potential deal in advance," he said at a news conference.

"I cannot make a commitment regarding reaching an agreement at this time," he said, and emphasized that Tel Aviv "will not cease the war against the Hamas."

The prime minister sought to increase military recruitment and pass a law to support the army.

As talks on a hostage-release deal continue with mediation from the US, Qatar and Egypt, US President Joe Biden said Monday that Israel would halt its war against Gaza during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan if a deal is reached.

The Palestinian Hamas group, believed to be holding more than 130 Israeli hostages, is demanding an end to Israel’s onslaught on Gaza in return for any hostage deal.

A previous deal in November 2023 saw the release of 81 Israelis and 24 foreigners in exchange for 240 Palestinians, including 71 women and 169 children.

Israel has launched a deadly military offensive on the Gaza Strip since an Oct. 7, 2023 Hamas attack, which Tel Aviv said killed less than 1,200 people.

At least 30,035 Palestinians have since been killed and 70,457 others injured amid mass destruction and shortages of necessities.

Israel has also imposed a crippling blockade on the Gaza Strip, leaving its population, particularly residents of northern Gaza, on the verge of starvation.

The Israeli war has pushed 85% of Gaza’s population into internal displacement amid acute shortages of food, clean water and medicine, while 60% of the enclave's infrastructure has been damaged or destroyed, according to the UN.

Israel is accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice. An interim ruling in January ordered Tel Aviv to stop genocidal acts and take measures to guarantee that humanitarian assistance is provided to civilians in Gaza.


*Writing by Mohammad Sio​​​​​​​

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