Jan 12, 2024 - World

Deal reached with Hamas to transfer medicine to hostages in Gaza, Israel says

Thousands of Israelis call for the immediate release of Israeli hostages held by Hamas, during a rally outside The Museum of Art, known as The Hostages and Missing Square, on January 6, 2024 in Tel Aviv, Israel

Thousands of Israelis in Tel Avv call for the immediate release of Israeli hostages held by Hamas on Jan. 6 in Tel Aviv. Photo: David Silverman/Getty Images

Israel and Hamas reached an agreement through Qatari mediation to transfer medicine to the hostages held in Gaza, the Israeli Prime Minister's Office said in a statement on Friday.

The big picture: It's the first time since the Oct. 7 attack that Hamas agreed to allow Israel to send the hostages critically needed medicine.

Behind the scenes: Israel has been asking Qatar and Egyptian mediators since Oct. 7 to press Hamas to allow the transfer of medicine to the hostages, but for three months, the militant group either refused or gave "unrealistic demands" in return, a senior Israeli official said.

  • A breakthrough in the talks came in recent days after Hamas agreed to allow the transfer of the medicine in return for Israel sending a shipment of medicine for hospitals in Gaza through the UN, two Israeli officials said.
  • The medicine for the hostages will be delivered through the Red Cross, Israeli officials said.
  • Qatari and Hamas officials didn't immediately respond to the Israeli statement.
  • The New York Times first reported on Thursday about the negotiations over the medicine.

State of play: Several hostages who returned to Israel as part of the previous deal have said Hamas provided very small amounts of medicine that didn't meet the needs of many of the sick or elderly.

  • Several of the hostages still being held in Gaza are 80 years old and older. Many of them have chronic illnesses that require ongoing medical treatment.
  • "Some of the medicine that we are going to send to the hostages are lifesaving," an Israeli official said.
  • There are more than 130 hostages still being held captive in Gaza.

Go deeper: Hamas sent Israel hostage deal proposal, but two sides still far apart

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