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Hamas responds to truce proposal, Blinken says Gaza deal ‘possible’


Hamas said on Tuesday it had delivered its response to a proposed ceasefire deal for Gaza, and the US said it believed an agreement was possible. Details of Hamas’ response were not immediately revealed but Qatar, which helped mediate the proposal that was passed on to Hamas last week, said the reply had made Doha “optimistic”.
US secretary of state Antony Blinken, on a lightning tour of West Asia, said Washington was reviewing Hamas’ response and that he would discuss it with Israeli officials when he visits the country on Wednesday. “There’s still a lot of work to do be done, but we continue to believe that an agreement is possible,” he said in Doha.
Hamas said in a statement on Tuesday that it still seeks “a comprehensive and complete” ceasefire. Israel has said it will not halt the war permanently until Hamas is destroyed.
The proposed deal was drawn up more than a week ago by US and Israeli spy chiefs at a meeting with the Egyptians and Qataris. Sources have said the truce would last at least 40 days, during which militants would free civilian hostages they hold. Further phases would follow, to hand over soldiers and dead bodies of hostages, in exchange for releases of Palestinians imprisoned in Israel.
The only truce, in Nov, was initially agreed for just four days and extended to last a week. At the time, Hamas released 110 hostages in exchange for 240 Palestinian prisoners.

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