New Israeli proposal calls for release of 40 hostages

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The Israeli government has drawn up a new deal for the release of dozens of hostages from Gaza, according to an official with direct knowledge of the matter.

The proposal comes after the latest rounds of talks between U.S., Israeli and Qatari officials. CIA Director Bill Burns, Mossad chief David Barnea and Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman al-Thani met in Warsaw on Monday to discuss the potential for a new hostage deal. Israel, which does not negotiate directly with Hamas, presented the agreement via Qatar.

The pact calls for a pause in fighting for up to a week and the release of 40 hostages, including many of the women and children Hamas had previously agreed to release, as well as hostages who require medical attention, according to the official. It also would allow for the flow of additional humanitarian aid into Gaza.

The official stressed that talks are ongoing, and a deal has yet to be officially reached. Axios was first to report about the Israeli proposal. Representatives of the Israeli government declined to comment.

If all sides sign on to the deal, it would mark the first such accord since Nov. 22 when Israel and Hamas agreed to a ceasefire and the release of 150 Palestinian prisoners for 50 hostages. The hostages were seized Oct. 7 during an incursion by Hamas.

So far, more than 100 hostages have been released from Gaza, including two Americans. National security council spokesperson John Kirby said Tuesday that the administration believes there are eight remaining American hostages left in Gaza. However, it is unclear if Hamas is holding all of them. Officials have said in recent weeks that they are still working to determine the whereabouts of all of the hostages, whether they are alive and if other groups other than Hamas are hiding them.

Of particular concern to U.S. and Israeli officials alike is the fate of dozens of women and children hostages. Under a previous deal, Hamas failed to provide a list of the women and children it was expected to release, prompting the end of negotiations and the resumption of fighting.

Since then, officials have grown increasingly concerned about those women and children. Biden administration officials, without presenting evidence, have alleged publicly that Hamas is sexually abusing the female hostages and that the group refuses to release them in fear they would detail those war crimes to the world.

The talks in Warsaw come just days after Israel admitted to accidentally killing three Israeli hostages.

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