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Hamas to Respond Soon to Proposal for Gaza Ceasefire and Hostage Exchange

In a significant development, a senior official from the Palestinian group Hamas announced on Friday that the organization will provide a swift response to a proposal that outlines extended pauses in the ongoing fighting in Gaza. The proposal also involves phased exchanges of hostages held by Hamas for Palestinians currently imprisoned in Israel.

Hamas, along with other militant groups in Gaza, is currently holding dozens of hostages following their deadly attack on southern Israel on October 7, during which approximately 250 individuals were abducted. The attack claimed the lives of 1,200 people, predominantly civilians, and triggered a forceful Israeli offensive on the enclave. A one-week truce in November led to the release of more than 100 hostages in exchange for 240 Palestinian prisoners.

The toll from Israel's offensive against Hamas in Gaza continues to rise, with the territory's Health Ministry reporting on Thursday that over 27,000 people have been killed and 66,000 wounded. The Health Ministry does not distinguish between civilian and combatant deaths but highlights that a majority of those killed were women and children.

The proposal under consideration suggests a potential avenue for de-escalation in the long-standing conflict, offering hope for a reduction in hostilities and the release of hostages held by Hamas.

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