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Israeli government and Hamas agree to hostage deal

The deal could include exchanging around 50 women and children for around 150 Israeli-held Palestinian prisoners, sources say.

Coverage on this live blog has ended. Follow live updates here.

Israel’s government and Hamas announced they have agreed to a deal that could see at least 50 hostages held by Hamas freed.

The deal, which is not yet final and could be appealed to Israel’s Supreme Court, also calls for a four-day truce as hostages, all women and children, are freed, Israel’s government said.

“The release of every additional ten hostages will result in one additional day in the pause,” Israel’s government said.

The deal also includes the release of 150 Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails, officials said. Hamas said it also includes aid and fuel entering Gaza.

Israel’s government said it “will continue the war in order to return home all of the hostages, complete the elimination of Hamas and ensure that there will be no new threat to the State of Israel from Gaza.”

A U.S. senior administration official said that two Americans and a 3-year-old child could be released in the batch of 50 hostages. Israel has said that militant groups took around 240 hostages when they attacked the country on Oct. 7.

The fighting has been going on over eight weeks. The Israel Defense Forces estimate 1,200 people were killed in the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel, with 236 people still held hostage in Gaza.

Gaza health officials say the death toll there has surpassed 14,000 after weeks of Israeli attacks. United Nations and other officials have called the situation in Gaza a humanitarian crisis.

17d ago / 6:46 AM UTC

Baby Anas, rescued from Gaza’s Al Shifa Hospital, feels warmth of mother’s embrace

RAFAH, Gaza Strip— At first, Warda Sbeta couldn’t find her newborn son, Anas, among the 31 tiny babies who had just arrived in southern Gaza after being evacuated from Gaza City’s devastated Al Shifa Hospital. She hadn’t seen him for 45 days.

She and her husband frantically checked the list of names provided by the head of the neonatal unit where the babies were being cared for, at a hospital in Rafah, and there it was, Anas’s name in black and white.

“I felt alive again, grateful to God that we now have our baby safely in our care,” said Sbeta, speaking at the hospital as she watched over her sleeping son, whom she had dressed in a light blue sleepsuit and matching hat.

Sbeta smiled as she held him in her hands and her husband helped her to wrap him in a white swaddling blanket with pink ribbons and a hood. Once he was bundled up, she cradled him against her chest.

Sbeta, 32, has seven older children, and the family, whose home was in Gaza City before the war, is now living in a school in Khan Younis, southern Gaza, that has become a shelter for hundreds of people displaced from the north of the strip.

Sbeta was offered the option of being evacuated to Egypt with Anas so he could receive further medical care, but she did not want to leave her husband and her other children.

“I can’t leave them with only their father. He won’t be able to look after them. So I was obliged to refuse this offer,” she said.

Anas was one of only three out of the 31 premature babies rescued from Al Shifa who stayed behind in Gaza. Of the other two, one was unidentified, according to doctors at the Rafah hospital. They did not give information about the third baby.

17d ago / 6:03 AM UTC

Blinken: U.S. ‘will not rest’ as long as Hamas holds people hostage

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is hailing an agreement between Israel and Hamas under which Hamas could free 50 civilian hostages it is holding in Gaza, but he said more needs to be done.

“While this deal marks significant progress, we will not rest as long as Hamas continues to hold hostages in Gaza,” Blinken said in a statement.

Blinken said that “the United States welcomes the deal to release 50 hostages, including American citizens,” who have been held by Hamas.

A senior administration official said after the announcement of the agreement that two American women and a 3-year-old child could be among those released.

Israel would also release Palestinians held in its prisons under the agreement, officials said. A pause in the fighting would be for four days while the hostages are freed.

17d ago / 4:54 AM UTC

Biden thanks leaders of Qatar and Egypt after Israel-Hamas agreement

Biden thanked Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani of Qatar and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi late Tuesday following announcements of an agreement between Israel and Hamas to release some hostages.

Biden said in a statement that the leaders of Qatar and Egypt provided “critical leadership and partnership in reaching this deal.”

Biden also thanked Netanyahu and his government. The agreement is for Hamas to release at least 50 hostages in return for a four-day pause in the fighting and for Israel to release some Palestinians imprisoned in its jails, officials said.

Biden said the deal, which is not yet final because of Israeli law about the rights of victims to appeal in prisoner exchanges, has a “provision of additional humanitarian assistance to alleviate the suffering of innocent Palestinian families in Gaza.”

He said he and first lady Jill Biden "I have been keeping all those held hostage and their loved ones close to our hearts these many weeks, and I am extraordinarily gratified that some of these brave souls, who have endured weeks of captivity and an unspeakable ordeal, will be reunited with their families once this deal is fully implemented."

17d ago / 3:37 AM UTC

Qatar announces Israel-Hamas agreement

Qatar has formally announced an agreement between Israel and Hamas that includes a pause in fighting and the release of 50 women and children held hostage by Hamas.

“The starting time of the pause will be announced within the next 24 hours and last for four days, subject to extension,” Qatar's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

Qatar said the 50 will be released “in exchange for the release of a number of Palestinian women and children detained in Israeli prisons, the number of those released will be increased in later stages of implementing the agreement.”

Qatar said that the U.S. and Egypt were involved in the joint mediation.

17d ago / 2:49 AM UTC

Three Americans, including child, might be released in hostage deal

The tentative deal in which Hamas would free 50 hostages could include two American women and a 3-year-old, a senior U.S. administration official said.

Israel’s government and Hamas said they had agreed to the plan, which also would include a pause in fighting and the release of 150 Palestinians from Israeli jails, but the deal is not yet final.

Ten Americans are unaccounted-for after the Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist attacks, the U.S. official said. Two American women and a toddler could be part of the group of 50 released, the official said.

The agreement calls for Hamas to release 50 women and children. Israeli officials have said Hamas took around 240 hostages when it attacked the country.

17d ago / 2:36 AM UTC

White House spent weeks working hostage deal, administration official says

The White House got word that Hamas initially agreed to the parameters of a deal that would release a large number of hostages in October but backed out the next day after Israel launched its ground invasion in Gaza, a senior administration official said.

U.S. officials debated with Israeli counterparts about whether to delay the invasion, but Israeli officials determined that terms weren’t firm enough because Hamas had not provided proof of life, the official said. Negotiations went on for the next three weeks, with messages being passed from Gaza to Doha, Qatar, or Cairo and back. 

Israeli and U.S. officials agreed that all women and children would have to be released in the first phase, the official said, but Hamas agreed only to 50 hostages and wouldn’t give identifying information. It wasn’t until Nov. 12 that Hamas provided a list of names.  

Talks broke off once again days later, with Hamas taking issue with the IDF’s invasion of Al-Shifa hospital, the official said. Biden spoke to the emir of Qatar last week and insisted the deal had to be finalized. 

A representative for the White House flew to Doha on Saturday to review the details of the potential deal before going to Cairo to speak with an Egyptian official who brought news that Hamas had agreed to nearly all the terms, according to the White House source.

Minor changes were made, with Israeli approval, and the message was sent Sunday that it was the final offer, said the source, who said Hamas agreed two days later.

17d ago / 2:30 AM UTC

Hamas says deal would allow access for aid and fuel deliveries

Hamas announced a deal to release 50 hostages in exchange for a truce and the release of 150 people held in Israeli prisons.

The deal also includes a cease-fire and access for humanitarian aid and fuel into Gaza, Hamas said.

Hamas said 50 women and children would be released. Israeli officials said 240 hostages were taken when Hamas attacked Israel.

Israel’s government had said that it agreed to the outlines of a deal but that Hamas also has to agree.

Israel has been bombarding Gaza from the air, and it has launched a ground operation in Gaza against Hamas following the Oct. 7 attacks. Thousands of civilians have been killed, according to health officials there.

17d ago / 2:22 AM UTC

U.S. launches more airstrikes against Iran-backed militants in Iraq

U.S. fighter jets conducted airstrikes on two facilities in Iraq used by an Iranian-proxy militia Wednesday morning local time, a U.S. defense official said.

"Initial evaluation” of the strikes against two Kataib Hezbollah targets “indicated that U.S. forces successfully destroyed the intended facilities,” the official said. “Additionally, we can confirm the presence of Kataib Hezbollah personnel. We’re unable to provide a casualty assessment at this time.”

U.S. Central Command described the attacks as “discrete, precision strikes.”

The strikes were a response to attacks “against U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq by Iran and Iran-backed groups,” the official said, including an attack on al-Asad air base in Iraq with a close-range ballistic missile. “The United States does not seek conflict and has no desire to engage in further hostilities, but these Iran-backed attacks against U.S. forces are unacceptable and must stop.”

“We will not hesitate to take further measures to protect our people, if necessary.”

Earlier, a U.S. AC-130 gunship attacked militants and a vehicle allegedly responsible for the ballistic missile attack. U.S. officials said the strike killed several fighters.

17d ago / 2:12 AM UTC

Israel announces outline of hostage deal but says war will continue

Israel’s government announced it has approved the outline of a deal to free dozens of people held hostage by Hamas, but it said it still plans to eliminate the group.

At least 50 hostages, all women and children, would be released over four days under the plan, during which there would be a pause in the fighting, the Israeli government said.

"The release of every additional 10 hostages will result in one additional day in the pause," the government said.

The statement also says the war will continue.

“The Government of Israel, the IDF and the security services will continue the war in order to return home all of the hostages, complete the elimination of Hamas and ensure that there will be no new threat to the State of Israel from Gaza,” the government said.

The statement does not mention Israel’s release of 150 Palestinian prisoners, which had been said to be part of the deal.

In prisoner exchanges, there is also a 24-hour period in which victims or their families can appeal to the Supreme Court, a spokesman for the prime minister's office said.

17d ago / 1:13 AM UTC

Israeli government approves deal to secure release of some hostages

Israel’s government has approved a deal to secure the release of hostages held by Hamas, the prime minister’s office said.

The decision on the outline of the hostage deal was passed by a majority of votes.

There is a still a 24-hour period in which the families of victims of people in Israeli jails could appeal to the Supreme Court. The deal is not final until that period concludes.

A senior Israeli official earlier today said that the government would be voting on a tentative agreement for the release of 50 women and children held by Hamas. Israel would release 150 Palestinian women and child prisoners as part of the deal.

The official said none of the Palestinians being held is accused of killing Israelis, but of playing support roles.

Netanyahu said earlier that the agreement also calls for a pause in fighting.

17d ago / 11:57 PM UTC

Red Cross would be allowed to access remaining hostages in proposed deal, source says

The proposed deal between Hamas and Israel is expected to include Red Cross access to the hostages, who would remain in Gaza, said an Israeli official briefed on the possible agreement.

That would include allowing the Red Cross to provide them with medicine, the official said.

Israel's Cabinet is discussing a tentative agreement that would exchange 150 Palestinian prisoners for 50 women and children. If the Cabinet votes to approve the proposal, families who were victimized by the prisoners would have 24 hours to appeal in court.

17d ago / 11:32 PM UTC

Israeli spokesperson: Hamas is ‘begging for a breather because it’s getting clobbered'

Eylon Levy, a spokesperson for the Israeli prime minister’s office, said that a possible hostage deal was a direct result of increased military pressure from Israel and that Hamas was "begging for a breather."

“This is a war. War is ugly. And this isn’t a war that we started. It’s not a war that we wanted. It’s not a war that we even expected,” Levy told MSNBC. “It’s a war that Hamas declared on us."

David Ignatius, a columnist for The Washington Post, told MSNBC that he was told of an outline for a similar hostage deal before Israel's ground invasion in Gaza. That deal, according to Ignatius, was scrapped because of Israel's ground assault.

17d ago / 9:30 PM UTC

Hostages deal could build trust, says woman whose husband and children were taken

TEL AVIV — A woman whose husband and two young children were abducted when Hamas fighters stormed Israel on Oct. 7 said a deal to bring some hostages home now could pave the way for future agreements.

Hadas Kalderon talked to N12 News Israel amid reports that Hamas and Israel were close to a cease-fire agreement that would include freeing some hostages, as well as some Palestinians held in Israeli prisons. Kalderon said negotiators should save whoever they can right now, “because we don’t know what will happen.”

“Who would dare vote against a deal?” she asked.

Kalderon said she is “in every dilemma possible,” acknowledging that Offer, the father of her children, could remain in captivity even if her children are released under the proposed deal.

“I still say: We are morally obligated — our responsibility is to return everyone,” she said. “But let’s be realistic.”

17d ago / 9:23 PM UTC

Security forces determined to continue pressuring Hamas after pause, defense minister says

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said Israel requested that "the action of the IDF, the Shin Bet and all the forces will continue in full force" to keep pressure on Hamas after any agreed-upon pause in fighting.

Gallant made the remarks before a Cabinet vote on whether to approve a tentative deal to exchange some hostages for Palestinian prisoners. He added that releasing hostages is "a moral and ethical issue."

"I understand how important this thing is," Gallant said. "Along with that, without the pressure and the continuity, there will be no chance to bring the next teams that we want to bring."

Benny Gantz, the leader of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyhu's opposition, described the tentative deal as "painful" but said the government must bring the deal home and fight for more hostages to be released.

"What is in this decision is a possible decision, and that is how I think it should be understood," Gantz said. "This is a possible decision within the framework of the goals of the war and which allows us morally and operationally, as well as the continued development of the campaign."

17d ago / 9:07 PM UTC

Former CIA Director John Brennan cautioned that there might be some "radical extremist elements" in Gaza that will try to undermine any deal to pause hostilities, and that Israel will have to be prepared for such incidents.

“There is concern that there could be some violations of this deal, and frequently that happens in pauses and ceasefires,” Brennan told MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell today.

17d ago / 8:35 PM UTC

Security forces support proposed hostage deal, Netanyahu says ahead of vote

Netanyahu described the pending vote on whether to exchange Palestinian prisoners for hostages as a difficult decision, "but it is the right decision."

In remarks made before Israel's Cabinet meeting and before a vote on the potential deal, he said the country's security forces support the outlined agreement.

"They made it clear in their full professional assessment that the security of our forces will be guaranteed during the days of pause, and that the intelligence effort will be maintained during these days," Netanyahu said.

The prime minister also noted that wars have stages and that the government will not relent until all of those abducted by Hamas are returned home.

"We will not let up in our efforts until we redeem them all, until we get them all back," he said.

17d ago / 8:14 PM UTC

Video from Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip shows internally displaced Gazans mobbing Egyptian aid trucks filled with bottled water. The United Nations has said that water shortages have “become a matter of life and death” in the besieged territory.

17d ago / 7:46 PM UTC

WHO staff member killed along with her husband and 6-month-old child

A World Health Organization staff member was killed today, along with her infant, in a strike on Gaza, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a post on X.

Dima Alhaj, her husband and their 6-month-old child were killed in a bombing on their home in Gaza, according to WHO's office in the occupied Palestinian territory. Alhaj's two brothers were also confirmed dead.

"Reportedly multiple other family members sheltering in the same house were also killed," Ghebreyesus wrote. "I have no words to describe our grief."

He reiterated a call for a cease-fire in his post and added that "humanitarians and civilians must be protected."

17d ago / 7:40 PM UTC

Israel is not negotiating for non-Israelis, source says of possible hostage deal


TEL AVIV — Israel will not exchange Palestinian prisoners in exchange for non-Israeli hostages, a senior Israeli official who gave NBC News details on a tentative agreement with Hamas that is awaiting a vote from Israel's government.

According to the official, Israel is currently only negotiating for its citizens and that other countries will have to negotiate for their own terms with Hamas. Dual nationals, those who hold Israel citizenship along with another country, are included in Israel's deals, the official said.

NBC News previously reported that 50 women and children could be released over four days in exchange for a pause in fighting, but the Israeli official added that there is an option to extend the pause for extra days in return for 10 hostages a day.

Israel will release 150 Palestinian women and children prisoners as part of the deal, but families of any prisoner's victims have the right to petition in court over the agreement under Israeli law. The official noted that none of the agreed-upon prisoners have directly killed Israelis.

But because of the law, any deal that is agreed upon by Israel’s Cabinet tonight cannot go into effect until tomorrow night.

17d ago / 6:47 PM UTC

Two MSF doctors killed in strike on Al-Awda Hospital, several others injured

Doctors Without Borders said two of its doctors were killed in a strike on Al-Awda Hospital and several other members of its staff were injured.

Médecins Sans Frontières identified the two physicians killed as Dr. Abu Nujaila and Dr. Al Sahar in a statement today. It also reported the death of a third doctor, Dr Ziad Al-Tatari, who was not part of its staff.

"MSF has regularly shared information about Al-Awda as a functioning hospital and the presence of our staff there to the warring parties...We condemn this strike in the strongest terms, and call yet again for the respect and protection of medical facilities, staff and patients," the statement said.

More than 200 patients remain at Al-Awda requiring medical care, MSF said, one of the only working hospitals remaining in the Gaza Strip. Doctors are in "extremely difficult situation in providing the little medical care they can," it said.

17d ago / 6:41 PM UTC

U.S. retaliatory strike against Iraq militants kills several fighters, officials say

WASHINGTON — A U.S. military airstrike overnight killed militants in Iraq in retaliation for a missile attack on a U.S. air base, three U.S. defense officials said.

Yesterday, a missile attack on U.S. and coalition forces at Al-Asad Airbase in western Iraq caused minor injuries to U.S. personnel and minor damage to infrastructure, the officials said. The Pentagon confirmed Tuesday that the missile was a short-range ballistic missile.

The U.S. responded with an AC-130 gunship strike against a handful of fighters and a vehicle allegedly responsible for the attack. According to the U.S. officials, the “self-defense” strike killed several fighters.

There have now been at least 65 attacks against bases with Americans in Iraq and Syria since Oct. 17 and at least 62 injuries. One U.S. contractor died of cardiac arrest after an attack on a base.

The U.S. blames the recent attacks on Iranian-backed militia groups. U.S. officials say Iran is responsible for the funding, arming, equipping and training of these groups. 

17d ago / 5:49 PM UTC

UNRWA on the West Bank: 'Violence has reached levels not seen in the last 15 years'

The situation in the occupied West Bank is "dangerously deteriorating," said Philippe Lazzarini, commissioner-general of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East.

"Violence has reached levels not seen in the last 15 years," he said. "Since 7 October, 200 Palestinians, including 52 children, have been killed by Israeli forces, in addition to eight, including one child, by settlers."

The IDF is conducting up to 40 raids a day, including into refugee camps, and rising settler attacks and movement restrictions have displaced more than 1,000 people in the West Bank since Oct. 7, Lazzarini said.

"Restrictions on the movement of people and goods have strongly impacted the economy," he said. "The situation is seriously undermining UNRWA’s ability to deliver services, particularly education. Over 10,000 students in refugee camps in northern West Bank, Hebron H2, East Jerusalem and Jericho area are especially impacted."

According to Lazzarini, "fear and anxiety are growing among Palestinians," who have been "subjected to harassment and violence, barred from employment, and denied free movement."

Palestinian protesters run from from tear gas during a raid by Israeli security forces in the Balata refugee camp in the occupied West Bank on Nov. 21, 2023.
Palestinian protesters run from tear gas during a raid Tuesday by Israeli security forces in the Balata refugee camp in the occupied West Bank.Zain Jaafar / AFP - Getty Images
17d ago / 5:30 PM UTC

IRC: 'Gaza is now the deadliest war zone in the world for civilians'

Gaza is now the "the deadliest war zone in the world for civilians," according to the International Rescue Committee.

The organization says more than 11,000 people have been killed in Gaza in six weeks, 40% of whom are children. According to health officials in Gaza, the death toll there has surpassed 14,000, including more than 5,000 children, more than 3,000 women and 201 medical personnel.

"This is over twice the number of people killed in the same period in Ukraine, Sudan, and Syria together," the IRC said in a statement. Gaza is more densely populated than Ukraine, Sudan and Syria, with more than 2 million people living within roughly 140 square miles.

"The way the conflict is being waged is unacceptable from a humanitarian point of view," the IRC said. "Civilians are bearing the brunt."

As the situation persists, IRC staff and partners aren't able to do their humanitarian work, according to the organization.

Image: Gaza Residents Face Further Displacement As Israel Expands Military Operations
Men carry the body of a killed Palestinian at a hospital today in Khan Younis, Gaza. Ahmad Hasaballah / Getty Images

The organization reiterated calls for a "meaningful humanitarian ceasefire," that includes "safety for aid workers and civilians, release of hostages, and restoration of fuel, water, and electricity supplies."

"We urge the UN Security Council and all parties with influence in the region to do all in their power to bring about such a ceasefire, without limits on its duration, to protect lives and allow aid to flow," the IRC said. "This is the only way to serve the humanitarian imperative."

17d ago / 5:11 PM UTC

Biden says deal to release hostages in Gaza is ‘very close’

President Joe Biden discussed efforts to negotiate a deal for the release of hostages taken by Hamas and assured that the U.S. is working “intensively” on the negotiations.

"You could bring some of these hostages home very soon," he said. "But I don’t want to get into the details of saying because nothing is done until it’s done and when we have more to say we will. Things are looking good at the moment."

17d ago / 5:05 PM UTC

'We cannot even protect people under the United Nations flag' in Gaza, U.N. official says


Scores of people have been killed in Gaza as a result of attacks on locations run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, according to Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini.

Almost 67 UNRWA installations have been hit since Oct. 7, 17 of them directly, he said.

As many as 176 displaced people who were sheltering in these installations were killed, and at least 778 were injured, Lazzarini said. Recent attacks on two UNRWA schools led to additional deaths and injuries.

A total of 108 staffers with the UNRWA have also been killed in Gaza, according to Lazzarini.

"We cannot even protect people under the United Nations flag," he said. "The people of Gaza are not safe anywhere: not at home, not under the U.N. flag, not in a hospital, not in the North, and not in the South."

Almost 80% of Gaza's population, 1.7 million people, have been displaced. More than 900,000 people are sheltering at UNRWA locations.

"The conditions in these shelters are indescribable," Lazzarini said. "They are massively overcrowded and shockingly unsanitary."

17d ago / 4:32 PM UTC

Israeli law allows for appeal of any prisoner deal

As news of a potential swap of Israeli hostages for Palestinian prisoners circulates today, Netanyahu's office noted that any deal is subject to appeal from victim families.

"An important point of procedure under Israeli law to the extent that any deal involves a prisoner exchange, or families of victims of terrorists within Israeli jails have a right to appeal to the Supreme Court against their release and they would have 24 hours to do so," said Eylon Levy, a spokesperson for Netanayhu's office.

Sources told NBC News that a potential deal that has been reached by negotiators to stop hostilities between Hamas and the Israeli military for multiple days, and would include around 50 women and children hostages being exchanged for around 150 Israeli-held Palestinian prisoners in a first phase. The deal is pending approval from the Israeli government, the sources said, and U.S. officials said it could still fall apart.

Israeli officials have not confirmed whether a deal is in the works but Israel's war Cabinet is set to meet tonight, followed by a security Cabinet meeting and a full parliamentary session.

17d ago / 3:52 PM UTC

A deal between Israel and Hamas to release hostages and pause fighting is close to being finalized, pending approval from the Israeli government. NBC News’ Gabe Gutierrez reports on the details of the agreement that could include a hostage-prisoner swap, a pause in fighting for multiple days and allowing more humanitarian aid into Gaza.

17d ago / 3:16 PM UTC

Sources: Tentative hostage deal reached, pending Israeli approval

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Sources tell NBC News that a tentative deal between negotiators has been reached. The agreement, which is pending Israeli government approval and could fall apart at any moment, according to U.S. officials, would be the most significant diplomatic breakthrough since the war began Oct. 7.

As it stands now, the tentative deal would include around 50 women and children hostages being exchanged for around 150 Israeli-held Palestinian prisoners in a first phase, according to a senior U.S. official. The numbers are subject to change. There would also be a pause of four to five days in fighting to allow for hostage exchanges and for more fuel trucks to enter Gaza.

A source familiar with the talks in the region said that Israel would choose which Palestinian prisoners it would release — pending a security check. The source also said the deal would include a suspension of overhead drone flights for up to six hours per day so that Hamas could consolidate the remaining hostages. Some hostages are being held by other groups, including Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

A woman plasters photos of Israeli children from kibbutz Afar Azza, missing and held captive in Gaza, in Tel Aviv, Israel, on Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2023.
A woman plasters photos of Israeli children from kibbutz Afar Azza, missing and held captive in Gaza, today in Tel Aviv.Ariel Schalit / AP

The U.S. officials stressed that any potential deal is very tenuous and could fall apart at any moment. As National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said yesterday, “Nothing is done until it’s all done.”

If the temporary cease-fire holds and everyone abides by it, the expectation is that another round of hostages would be released once Hamas can consolidate all of the kidnapped captives. 

Earlier, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office announced it was convening special Cabinet meetings in "light of the developments regarding the release of our abductees."

17d ago / 2:25 PM UTC

Qatari foreign minister says deal at its 'closest point' ever

A Qatari spokesperson said that officials are closing in on a truce agreement, according to a post on X from Qatar's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

"We are working towards an agreement taking place and we are now at the closest point we ever have been in reaching and an agreement," Majed Al Ansari said during a weekly news briefing. "We are very optimistic, we are very hopeful, but we are also very keen for this mediation to to succeed in reaching a humanitarian truce."

17d ago / 1:59 PM UTC

Netanyahu calls 'war Cabinet' after truce reports


TEL AVIV — The office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he is convening special Cabinet meetings today following reports that a truce deal with Hamas was close.

“In light of the developments regarding the release of our abductees,” the prime minister will convene a 'war Cabinet' at 6 p.m. (11 a.m. ET). This will be followed by a "political-security Cabinet" and "government."

Earlier, multiple news organizations reported that the possible deal could include the release of at least 50 hostages in waves.

17d ago / 1:32 PM UTC

630 people crossed from Gaza into Egypt today, official says

As many as 630 "foreigners and dual nationals," 35 of whom are U.S. citizens, crossed into Egypt from Gaza, Dr. Raed Abdel Nasser, secretary general of the Egyptian Red Crescent in North Sinai, told NBC News.

In addition, 30 injured people are being transported to Qatar for treatment, he said. Two fuel and 50 aid trucks also crossed at Rafah, Nasser added.

The Palestine Red Crescent Society reported that 70 aid trucks were received yesterday.

17d ago / 1:06 PM UTC

The Israeli military released video showing fierce fighting with militants in Jabalia. The IDF said that it had surrounded the urban area in northern Gaza. NBC News cannot independently verify the footage.

17d ago / 12:30 PM UTC

Two journalists killed in southern Lebanon

A pan-Arab Lebanese satellite channel has says two of its journalists were killed in an Israeli airstrike in southern Lebanon today.

Correspondent Farah Omar and cameraman Rabih Maamari were "targeted" by Israel, Al-Mayadeen TV said in a statement on X. Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati condemned their deaths, which he also blamed on Israel.

Israeli officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the announcement. NBC News has not independently verified the report.

Iran-backed Hezbollah and Israeli forces have been trading fire across their border since Hamas' Oct. 7 terror attack on Israel.

Journalists and family members of the two journalists of pan-Arab TV network Al-Mayadeen who were killed by an Israeli strike mourn as thet wait for the bodies outside the station's headquarters in Beirut on Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2023.
Journalists and family members of the two journalists of Al-Mayadeen who the pan-Arab TV network says were killed by an Israeli strike wait for the bodies outside the station's headquarters in Beirut.Bilal Hussein / AP
17d ago / 12:19 PM UTC

More than 5,000 children killed in Gaza, UNICEF head says

Among the 13,000 reported killed in Gaza, 5,000 children have died, UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell wrote in a post on X.

She called it "Another horrifying milestone," and added that "Each one is a life extinguished and a family devastated."

Pro-Palestine demonstration in Istanbul
Shoes and pictures of children are displayed today in Istanbul to draw attention to the children lost in Gaza. Arif Hudaverdi Yaman / Anadolu via Getty Images
17d ago / 12:07 PM UTC

Hezbollah attacked a house in northern Israel

The Iran-backed militia group, Hezbollah, attacked a house in northern Israel this morning, where soldiers were stationed, it said in a statement.

The IDF said three anti-tank missiles had been launched from Lebanon, but no injuries were reported.

"In response, IDF soldiers are striking toward the source of the fire in Lebanon," it said in a statement.

Black smoke rises from an Israeli airstrike on the outskirts of Aita al-Shaab, a Lebanese border village with Israel, on Nov. 21, 2023.
Smoke rises from an Israeli airstrike today on the outskirts of Aita al-Shaab, a Lebanese border village with Israel.Hussein Malla / AP
17d ago / 11:43 AM UTC

Israeli military questions 300 Gaza detainees, says they gave 'very valuable' information

Some 300 people detained during Israel's ground operation in the Gaza Strip gave "very valuable" information when interrogated, the Israeli government's press office said yesterday.

The information obtained by Israeli military intelligence included "locations of underground terrorism tunnels, warehouses and weapons, along with exposing the enemy’s methods of operation, and the enemy’s assimilation efforts within the civilian population," it said in a statement.

"Each and every interrogation leads to the release of new locations and the human intelligence that emerges from the Gaza Strip," it added.

NBC News has not verified the claims.

Israeli soldiers during an operation in the Zeitoun district of the southern part of the Gaza Strip on Nov. 20, 2023.
Israeli soldiers during an operation in the Zeitoun district of the southern part of the Gaza Strip yesterday.Israel Defense Forces via AFP - Getty Images
17d ago / 11:22 AM UTC

Displacing Palestinians from Gaza a 'declared policy,' Egypt says

Israel is pushing Palestinians out of Gaza, Egypt said yesterday, as Israel continues its siege of the enclave.

"Israel’s policy of obstructing aid entry is a systematic, and aimed at pushing Palestinians to leave Gaza under the continued bombing & siege," Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said in Beijing yesterday, the Foreign Ministry wrote on X.

Arab and Muslim leaders are touring various United Nations Security Council permanent members, calling for a cease-fire.

"Enforced displacement shall threaten peace, security & stability in the region & the world," the Foreign Ministry added.

Palestinians mourn their relatives at the hospital in Khan Younis, Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2023.
Palestinians mourn their relatives today at a hospital in Khan Younis.Fatima Shbair / AP
17d ago / 11:06 AM UTC

Israeli minister calls for 'voluntary resettlement' of Palestinians instead of rebuilding Gaza Strip

Bringing back the Palestinian Authority to rule Gaza will fail, an Israeli minister says, promoting "voluntary resettlement" of the population in other countries.

"Instead of funneling money to rebuild Gaza or to the failed UNRWA, the international community can assist in the costs of resettlement," Gila Gamliel, Israel's intelligence minister, said in an opinion piece in The Jerusalem Post. She added that the U.N. agency has "done zero to help the Palestinian people."

Gamliel is not a part of the Israeli government's war Cabinet so would not have a say on the matter.

The donation-funded UNRWA was founded in 1949 and has been responsible for providing health care, education and other social services in the Gaza Strip.

Gamliel did not say if Israel would contribute under her proposed plan, but added, "It is important that those who seek a life elsewhere be provided with that opportunity."

Forced displacement of populations is a war crime in violation of international humanitarian law. 

Injured Palestinians evacuated from the Indonesian hospital in the north of the Gaza Strip receive care at Nasser hospital in the Palestinian territory's southern city of Khan Yunis, on Nov. 20, 2023.
Injured Palestinians evacuated from the Indonesian Hospital in the northern Gaza Strip receive care yesterday at Nasser Hospital in Khan Yunis, southern Gaza.AFP - Getty Images
17d ago / 11:06 AM UTC

Premature babies are receiving care in Egypt

17d ago / 10:57 AM UTC

Possible truce deal in the works, according to multiple reports

TEL AVIV — A possible truce deal is in the works that would include a multiday cease-fire and at least 50 Israeli and international hostages freed in waves, with more to follow, according to multiple news reports quoting Hamas and Israeli officials this morning.

A part of the deal could include exchanging Palestinian women and children detained in Israel for the hostages held by Hamas, the reports added.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said the group is “close to reaching a truce agreement” with Israel. Israeli officials declined to comment on the announcement, which came in a statement on Hamas’ website.

Meanwhile, the International Committee of the Red Cross said its president, Mirjana Spoljaric, had traveled to Qatar, which has been helping broker a deal between Hamas and Israel. Spoljaric will meet with Hamas officials and separately with Qatari officials.

The ICRC, which helped with the evacuation of four previously released hostages, does not take part in negotiations leading to their release. Still, Spoljaric’s trip may be another clue that events are moving quickly.

Israeli tanks operate in a location given as Gaza, amid the ongoing ground operation of the Israeli army against the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas
Israeli tanks operate in an unspecified location in Gaza in an image released by Israel today.IDF via REUTERS
17d ago / 10:57 AM UTC

Israeli military say it has encircled Jabalia

The IDF said today it had encircled Jabalia, a refugee camp in northern Gaza.

"Terrorists were eliminated and infrastructure was destroyed," the IDF wrote in a post on X. It added that it was targeting Hamas' underground shafts in the area. NBC News could not verify its claims.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said its team saw wounded people leaving the area yesterday. One woman said she was leaving Jabalia, "where her home had been bombed and she sustained shrapnel injuries in her abdomen. She had been walking while pressing a towel against her wounds."

She said she wasn't able to get treatment at Indonesian Hospital "due to collapse of services there," OCHA added.

17d ago / 10:53 AM UTC

Watch: Workshops and healing for survivors of Hamas attack

Survivors of the Hamas attack on the Nova music festival Oct. 7 and families of victims are receiving the opportunity to find healing in creative workshops.

18d ago / 9:50 AM UTC

IDF says its aircrafts struck 250 targets in Gaza Strip yesterday

The Israel Defense Forces said today its aircrafts attacked some 250 targets in the Gaza Strip yesterday, including Hamas infrastructure, militants and missile launchers.

IDF also destroyed a rocket launcher placed near a residential area, it said in a post on X.

Israeli ground forces also recovered a weapons cache in Gaza, including an anti-tank missile, the IDF said.

NBC News has not verified the claims.

Smoke rises following an Israeli airstrike in the Gaza Strip as seen from the town of Sderot, southern Israel, Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2023.
Smoke rises following an Israeli airstrike today in the Gaza Strip as seen from the town of Sderot, southern Israel.Leo Correa / AP
18d ago / 9:31 AM UTC

Deadliest month for journalists with most killed being Palestinian, CPJ says

At least 50 journalists, 45 of them Palestinians, have been killed since the war began Oct 7, the Committee to Protect Journalists says. The first four weeks of the conflict were the deadliest month for journalists since the organization began tracking fatalities in 1992, it says.

"Those in Gaza, in particular, have paid, and continue to pay, an unprecedented toll and face exponential threats,"  Sherif Mansour, CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa program coordinator, said in a statement on its website.

"Many have lost colleagues, families, and media facilities, and have fled seeking safety when there is no safe haven or exit," Mansour added.

18d ago / 8:57 AM UTC

Hamas leader says group ‘close to’ truce agreement with Israel

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh says the group is “close to reaching a truce agreement” with Israel.

Israeli officials declined to comment on the announcement, which came in a statement on Hamas' website.

Asked yesterday whether a deal was near to secure the release of hostages, President Joe Biden replied, “I believe so.”

18d ago / 8:56 AM UTC

Almost the entire Gaza population is in need of urgent food assistance: WFP

An estimated 2.2 million people in Gaza are in urgent need of food assistance, the United Nations’ World Food Programme (WFP) said in a post on X.  

“Existing food systems are collapsing, and to reach those in need, WFP and our partners need increased access and resources like fuel, gas, and connectivity,” said the agency, which provides food and financial resources to hundreds of thousands of people in Gaza and the West Bank.

"To make a real impact, we need hostilities to halt," it added.

UNRWA distributes flour to Palestinian families in Rafah
The UN Relief and Works Agency distributes flour today to Palestinian families in Rafah.Abed Rahim Khatib / Anadolu via Reuters
18d ago / 8:56 AM UTC

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18d ago / 8:56 AM UTC

More wounded are fleeing northern Gaza, U.N. agency says

A growing number of wounded Palestinians are fleeing northern Gaza amid continued heavy violence there, the United Nations says.

Some 25,000 people left northern Gaza yesterday, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

"One woman interviewed reported that she had come from Tal Az Za’tar in Jabalia, where her home had been bombed and she sustained shrapnel injuries in her abdomen," it said in a report.

"She had been walking while pressing a towel against her wounds," it said. The woman had attempted to receive treatment at the Indonesian Hospital "but was not admitted due to collapse of the services there." The besieged hospital has seen bombings and assaults nearby as Israeli forces say they are only responding to fire in the vicinity.