Israel says it has 239 Hamas prisoners, military and civilians (social media)

The Israel Broadcasting Corporation says Benjamin Netanyahu's government has given the green light to a prisoner free deal with Hamas and is awaiting the group's response.

Roi Sharon, a military analyst for Israel's Kan TV, said: "We are now at crucial hours, we are closer than ever to reaching a deal."

He pointed out that Hamas has conveyed a proposal to Israel in recent days, and in Israel they reached understandings on accepting Hamas' conditions and demands.

"The ball is now in Hamas' court, and it must show responsibility and seriousness, and if it responds in the affirmative, we will be in a verifiable deal," he said.

Sharon explained that the deal includes a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip for 5 days, noting that Israel will then resume its military operations inside the Strip.

The Israeli channel did not say how many prisoners from both sides were expected to be included in the deal.

US President Joe Biden said he believed a deal to release some prisoners held by the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas in Gaza was imminent, without providing further details.

White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby also confirmed that Washington believes a prisoner release deal is "near."

Kirby said the White House was doing its best in negotiations over the hostages, explaining that "the implementation of any agreement is up to everyone to fulfill their obligations."

Israel Today quoted officials as saying that the deal is no closer than it was yesterday, and that a cabinet meeting will be held tonight with representatives of the families and if there is any update, the families will be informed of it first.

Amid the uncertainty over the deal, Islamic Jihad announced that Ziad al-Nakhaleh, secretary-general of the movement, had discussed with Ismail Haniyeh, head of Hamas' political bureau, developments in the situation and negotiations regarding the prisoner deal.

The Washington Post reported that Israel, the United States and Hamas had reached a preliminary agreement to release dozens of "hostages" in exchange for a five-day ceasefire.

In this regard, Qatari Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani said on Sunday that an agreement on the exchange deal between Israel and Hamas is "imminent."

Hamas is offering Tel Aviv the release of a number of Israeli prisoners, including those with foreign nationals, in exchange for a truce for several days, the entry of fuel and food into Gaza, and the release of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli prisons.

Source : Al Jazeera + Agencies