Israel and Hamas have reached an agreement to allow medicines to be delivered to Israeli captives held in the Gaza Strip and for aid to be transported to residents in the besieged Palestinian territory, Qatar has announced.
The deal will see humanitarian aid delivered to civilians in “the most affected and vulnerable areas” in Gaza in exchange for the delivery of medication to Israeli captives held by Hamas, the group that governs Gaza, Qatar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement on Tuesday.
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Ministry spokesperson Majed al-Ansari said medication and aid will leave Doha on Wednesday for the Egyptian city of El Arish in preparation for their delivery into the Gaza Strip.
He said the agreement was mediated by Qatar in cooperation with France.
Earlier, Philippe Lalliot, head of France’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Crisis Centre, which organises aid efforts, said negotiations had been going on for weeks and the initial idea had come from the families of some of the Israeli captives.
Specific medical packages for several months, which were put together in France, would be delivered to each of the 45 captives. The International Committee of the Red Cross will coordinate on the ground.
Hamas seized about 240 people as captives during its attack on southern Israel on October 7 in which at least 1,139 people were killed, according to an Al Jazeera tally based on official statistics.
Israel responded to the assault with a devastating bombardment, siege and ground invasion of Gaza. More than 24,000 people have been killed in the Israeli assault, according to Palestinian authorities.
More than 100 captives were freed during a week-long truce in late November following lengthy negotiations mediated by Qatar and the United States. In exchange, Israel released hundreds of Palestinian prisoners from jails.
Earlier on Tuesday, the White House said US Middle East Envoy Brett McGurk was in Doha in recent days discussing a possible deal for the release of captives.
National security spokesperson John Kirby told reporters that McGurk was involved in “very serious and intensive discussions” with the Qataris about another deal.
“We are hopeful it will bear fruit and bear fruit soon,” he said.