Editor’s note: This story has been updated to add more information about Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s diplomatic visit to the Middle East and a new report on the deaths of Israeli hostages in the Gaza Strip.
Hopes for a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip received a boost Tuesday after the prime minister of Qatar, one of the chief negotiators between Hamas and Israel, said that Hamas had replied to the proposal drafted last week.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said in a live press conference alongside U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken that a reply from Hamas had been received, and that — while it included some comments — “in general, it was positive.”
The proposal, if accepted in its draft form, would see Israel suspend all military operations in the Gaza Strip while Hamas releases all remaining Israeli hostages in a three-stage deal.
The response from Hamas had been delivered to Israel, but no more details could be given about the response until Israel has had time to consider it and submit its own reactions, Al Thani said.
Blinken Says US Is Reviewing Gaza Deal
Speaking alongside Al Thani at the press conference in Qatar’s capital Doha, Blinken, who is on a diplomatic mission to the region in support of the cease-fire and hostage release deal, said the U.S. is reviewing Hamas’ response “now.”
He said that he would be discussing it with the government of Israel when he visits the country on Wednesday.
Blinken added: “There’s still a lot of work to be done, but we continue to believe that an agreement is possible, and indeed essential. And we will continue to work relentlessly to achieve it.”
Deaths Of 31 Of Remaining Israeli Hostages Reported
Thirty-one of the remaining 136 hostages being held in Gaza are dead, Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, Israel’s chief military spokesperson, said in his regular media briefing Tuesday.
The figures came from an internal assessment conducted by the Israeli military; Hagari said that 31 families had been informed that their “loved ones had been pronounced dead.”
Whether this news could hamper or speed up the cease-fire and hostage release plan will depend much on the reaction by families of those still being held and others involved in, or witnesses to, the events of Oct. 7 when Hamas seized the…