US Considers Separate Deal with Hamas, Media Reports

The agreement could free American hostages believed to be held in Gaza

According to NBC, US officials are considering a deal with Hamas militants to secure the release of American hostages held in Gaza. Five US citizens are believed to be held in Gaza, along with the bodies of three others killed during Hamas’s attack on Israel last October.

The report suggests that if ceasefire talks with Israel fail, the US would pursue a separate agreement with Hamas, brokered by Qatar. This agreement would be independent of Israeli involvement.

NBC sources did not disclose what the US might offer Hamas in exchange for the hostages’ release. However, they noted that Hamas might see this as an opportunity to leverage a direct deal with Washington, potentially straining US-Israeli relations and forcing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to accept Hamas’s ceasefire proposal.

US White House officials declined to comment.

During their October 7 attack on Israel, Hamas captured around 250 hostages, initiating the current war. Roughly half of these hostages were exchanged for Palestinian prisoners during a week-long ceasefire in November, while seven others were rescued in Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) raids. The latest rescue mission, conducted last week in Nuseirat, central Gaza, resulted in the release of four captives, including Russian citizen Andrey Kozlov.

Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, IDF spokesperson, stated on Saturday that Hamas still holds approximately 120 hostages, with no confirmation on their survival.

Netanyahu has faced intense criticism for failing to secure the hostages’ release, with families of the captives staging protests demanding government action. The Israeli prime minister has refused to negotiate with Hamas for their release, demanding the complete elimination of the militant group. Conversely, Hamas has called for a lasting ceasefire and full Israeli withdrawal from Gaza.

In late May, US President Joe Biden proposed a peace plan for Gaza. This plan envisioned the release of all remaining hostages in exchange for Israel agreeing to a six-week truce with Hamas, followed by a permanent ceasefire and eventual withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza. However, Hamas political leader Ismail Haniyeh indicated last week that the group was dissatisfied with the phased nature of the plan. Netanyahu reportedly also rejected the proposal, stating that there would be no permanent ceasefire until Hamas is destroyed.