Netanyahu convenes government ahead of possible hostage release

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Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is calling extraordinary meetings of the government to occur Tuesday evening local time, signaling a potential breakthrough on the release of dozens of hostages held by Hamas for at least 45 days.

Netanyahu is convening first the war cabinet, then the security cabinet and then the government Tuesday evening, the prime minister’s office wrote on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.

The meetings are related to “developments on the issue of the release of our hostages.”

President Biden and his officials have expressed cautious optimism in recent days that talks with Hamas to secure the release of dozens of hostages — likely women, children and the elderly — are coming to a conclusion.

The reported U.S.-brokered deal could include a cessation of hostilities for a few days, which would allow for hostages to be transferred out of Gaza along with an increase of humanitarian aid into the strip. It also may include the release of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.

Hamas kidnapped approximately 240 people from Israel on Oct. 7, as part of a large-scale attack where at least 1,200 people were killed.

Among those captured and held include Israelis and people of dozens of other nationalities, including Americans. Hamas kidnapped a months-old baby, toddlers, children and the elderly.

Hamas has since released four people as part of intensive negotiations through Egypt, Qatar and the U.S. and Israel.

One Israeli soldier kidnapped by Hamas was rescued by Israeli armed forces amid their military campaign in the Gaza Strip.

Israel’s war on Hamas over the past month and a half has killed more than 10,000 Palestinian civilians, largely from Israeli airstrikes, according to Gaza health officials. The Israeli military has also launched a ground offensive into Gaza and is now fighting in Gaza City.

Israel’s strikes near refugee camps and operations into Gaza hospitals have stoked anger worldwide and fueled pro-Palestinian protests calling for a cease-fire.

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