Israel has proposed to Hamas via Qatari and Egyptian mediators a pause in fighting of up to two months as part of a deal to free all the hostages being held in Gaza, the US news site Axios reported Monday.
The report, citing unnamed Israeli officials, said the deal would take place in multiple stages, the first of which would see the release of women, men over 60 and those in critical medical condition.
Subsequent phases would involve the release of women soldiers, younger civilian men, male soldiers and the bodies of dead hostages.
The officials said the deal would also see the release of an as yet undetermined number of Palestinian prisoners being held in Israel, but not all of them.
The proposal does not include promises to end the war, but it would involve Israeli troops reducing their presence in major cities in Gaza and gradually allowing residents to return to the territory’s devastated north.
The officials said the deal was expected to take around two months to implement.
Qatar, which with the US and Egypt has led negotiations for the release of hostages and pauses to the fighting in Gaza, pushed back against the reports on Tuesday.
Declining to comment on specifics of negotiations, which he said continued with “full force”, foreign ministry spokesman Majed Al Ansari said the leaks to the media were “either missing elements or completely false”.
“The only way out of (the conflict) is for negotiations to take place and for there to be a sustainable ceasefire between both sides,” he told a Doha news conference.
Reports of the Israeli proposal come as US media said the White House’s coordinator for the Middle East, Brett McGurk, was due in the region for meetings in Egypt and Qatar aimed at securing a new hostage exchange deal.
About 250 hostages were taken during Hamas’s bloody October 7 attacks, and Israel says around 132 remain in Gaza.
That includes the bodies of at least 28 dead hostages, according to an AFP count based on Israeli data.
The October 7 attacks resulted in the deaths of about 1,140 people in Israel, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on official Israeli figures.
In response, Israel launched a relentless offensive that has killed at least 25,490 people in Gaza, mostly women and children, according to Hamas-run Gaza’s health ministry.