Israeli Sources Say Hostage Deal Nearer, as Sirens Sound, Fighting Intensifies Around Gaza and North
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JERUSALEM, Israel – Families of Israeli hostages gathered Monday outside Israeli's military headquarters in Tel Aviv ahead of their meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his war cabinet.
The prime minister told the families that the return of the hostages is a "sacred mission," and that he and his "friends" are responsible for their return.
For the families, though, it didn't go far enough.
Udi Goren, whose cousin, Tal Chaim, is being held captive in Gaza, said, "What we've heard is that taking down Hamas and bringing the hostages are as important – are equally important. As far as I am concerned, and I represent myself and my family, this is incredibly disappointing."
Goren believes the return of the hostages should be the top priority now. Yet he says it makes sense that details of any deal are a secret.
"It makes you know, it just takes common sense to understand that if they told us about the details of the deal that is now being done, then it might jeopardize it," he stated.
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh indicated a deal is close. Agence France Presse reported 50 to 100 Israeli and foreign civilian hostages would be released, in exchange for around 300 Palestinians in Israeli jails. The deal would include humanitarian aid into Gaza and a five-day truce.
The U.S. also continues to hint at a soon-coming deal for at least some of the hostages.
"As you heard the deputy national security advisor say yesterday, we believe we're closer than we've ever been. So we're hopeful. But there's still work to be done, and nothing is done until it's all done," said National Security Council Spokesman John Kirby.
Inside Gaza, fighting continues. Over the last day, The Israeli military says it struck some 250 terror targets, including dozens of terrorists, rocket launchers, and terrorist infrastructure.
According to the IDF, one rocket-launching post was located in a civilian residential area.
Terrorists launched a heavy barrage of rockets from that Gaza location toward Tel Aviv on Monday.
Troops also found a weapons stockpile in the residence of a senior terrorist, including in a baby's room.
The fighting is not limited to Gaza in southern Israel. Along the northern border with Lebanon, heavy exchanges of fire ensued, as Hezbollah launched rockets at communities.
Hezbollah caused heavy damage to an Israeli army base. The Iranian-backed group has conducted regular attacks since October 7th, but so far, there is little sign it plans a full-scale assault.
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