Several major Israeli news media on Friday reported that there are advanced negotiations for the release of Israeli hostages held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip in exchange for Palestinians imprisoned in Israel.
Israel's state-owned Kan TV news reported that the information was confirmed by "a source familiar with the hostages’ issue," adding that the United States and Qatar are involved behind the scenes in the deal.
The number of Israeli hostages held in the Gaza Strip is over 239, including children, elderly and women, according to the Israel Defense Forces.
The channel stated that there are worries on the Israeli side that Hamas will not abide by the deal and will release a significantly lower number than what was agreed upon. The move is believed to be an attempt to halt the Israeli military operation in Gaza.
"We are constantly and proactively engaged in a variety of moves to free the hostages. These processes are complex and take time," Israel Defense Forces Spokesman Daniel Hagari said on Friday night.