Israel and Hamas appear to be inching closer to a ceasefire agreement, accompanied by potential hostage releases. Qatar has taken on a mediating role, indicating initial support from Hamas for a possible deal. The group has yet to respond officially. A Qatari official clarified that there is no deal yet, and they are awaiting a formal response from Hamas.

Hamas representative Taher al-Nono expressed uncertainty about the negotiation stage. Hamas political leader Ismail Haniyeh will travel to Cairo for further ceasefire talks.

The proposed ceasefire agreement plan outlines a six-week timeline, emphasising freedom of movement in Gaza and the phased release of hostages in exchange for Palestinian prisoners in Israel. The release plan is structured in three phases:

The first phase involves the release of women, children, the sick, and elderly prisoners held by Hamas. The second phase encompasses the release of female soldiers. The final phase involves the release of male soldiers and the bodies of deceased hostages.

Hamas seeks the release of up to 150 Palestinian prisoners for each hostage and desires the release of senior figures like Marwan Barghouti. Israeli ministers are opposed to a ceasefire lasting longer than a month, citing concerns about the potential return to offensive operations against Hamas.

Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant suggested that Rafah could be the next target of operations. UN’s humanitarian office described Rafah as a pressure cooker of despair crammed with hundreds of thousands of displaced individuals.

Recent reports indicate an escalation of hostilities in Khan Younis, leading to an increase in internally displaced people seeking refuge in Rafah. Israeli forces are reported to have targeted areas around hospitals in Khan Younis and intensified attacks close to Rafah.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs expresses deep concern about the safety of medical staff, the wounded, sick individuals, and internally displaced people in the affected areas.

UNICEF estimates that 17,000 children in Gaza are unaccompanied or separated from their families during the conflict, with over one million children now requiring mental health support due to extreme anxiety, loss of appetite, sleep disturbances, and emotional outbursts.

More than one million displaced Palestinians fear a new Israeli military onslaught, particularly in Rafah. The Gaza Health Ministry reports 112 Palestinians killed and 148 wounded in the past 24 hours.

In a joint statement, hundreds of European and American officials condemned Israel’s war on Gaza. The letter characterises Israel’s actions as “one of the worst human catastrophes of this century” and accuses governments of providing support without imposing real conditions or accountability, worsening the humanitarian catastrophe.