A near-finalized deal will reportedly free 50 Hamas hostages in exchange for an unknown number of Palestinian women and minors in Israeli custody, a temporary cease-fire and pauses in drone surveillance.
Rina Bassist, Ezgi Akin, Beatrice Farhat, Elizabeth Hagedorn, Adam Lucente, Jack Dutton, Jared Szuba and Al-Monitor’s contributors on the ground in Gaza, the West Bank and Israel contributed to this blog.
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Live updates (all times EDT):
Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2023
8:05 pm: Israeli cabinet greenlights Hamas hostage deal
The Israeli cabinet has approved a deal for Hamas to release dozens of women and children held hostage in the Gaza Strip during a multi-day pause in the fighting, Haaretz reported. As part of the Qatari-mediated deal, Israel will also release a number of Palestinian prisoners held in its detention centers. An Israel official speaking on condition of anonymity confirmed to Al-Monitor that the cabinet voted in favor of the deal.
6:00 pm: Examining Saudi crown prince’s call to stop weapons exports to Israel
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman called on the international community to cease weapons exports to Israel on Monday, reflecting increased pressure from Riyadh to de-escalate the Israel-Hamas war and complicating Washington’s efforts to get Saudi Arabia and Israel to normalize ties. Adam Lucente reports.
5:30 pm: What does US envoy Hochstein’s trip to Israel mean for Gaza’s offshore gas?
Amos Hochstein, the US special presidential coordinator for global infrastructure and energy security, traveled to Israel on Monday. The visit could boost prospects for Gaza to develop its offshore gas reserves after the war and seeks to calm tensions on the Israel-Lebanon border. Adam Lucente reports.
3:30 pm: Turkey’s Fidan to join Saudi-led delegation in London, Paris
Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan will visit London and Paris on Wednesday, joining a Saudi Arabia-led delegation that paid a visit to China earlier this week as Muslim-majority nations seek to garner support for a cease-fire call between Israel and Hamas.
The foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, Indonesia and the Palestinian Authority as well as the general secretary of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation were in Moscow on Tuesday as part of their tour to permanent member states of the UN Security Council.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry separately said a group of 100 individuals including Turkish citizens, Turkish Cypriots and their relatives have left Gaza through the Rafah crossing. The group will be taken to Turkey on Wednesday, it added.
3:15 pm: Satterfield says Israel to implement 'deconfliction mechanism' for Gaza aid workers
US special envoy David Satterfield told Al-Monitor that a deconfliction mechanism would take effect shortly in Gaza, where Israel’s military campaign has killed more than 100 United Nations staff members.
“We realized and we impressed upon Israel that more had to be done; there needed to be a single coordinated, functional deconfliction mechanism,” said Satterfield, the newly appointed US special envoy for Middle East humanitarian issues, in an Al-Monitor webinar Tuesday.
3:00 pm: Netanyahu speaks as cabinet meeting set to vote on hostage deal
"We are facing a difficult but right decision," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday at the start of a cabinet meeting to vote on a hostage-release deal mediated by Qatar.
Netanyahu said that he asked US President Joe Biden to help get a better deal for Israel — namely the release of more hostages in exchange for a lower price — noting that the American leader contributed to the current parameters of the deal.
The prime minister said that the Israel Defense Forces will continue military operations once the temporary truce is over. He also clarified that all Israel's security agencies support the outline, which should not damage the army’s ability to continue operating in Gaza and could actually help the IDF reorganize.
Netanyahu did not offer the details of the outline to be voted on. The government must approve such a deal with a simple majority of 20 out of 38 cabinet members. If it passes, those who wish to petition Israel's High Court against the deal — either families of relatives killed by assailants set to be released or families of hostages not included in the deal — will get 24 hours to do so. Only after that will the deal be fully approved.
1:25 pm: Israeli military says it breached blast door of Hamas tunnel under al-Shifa hospital
Israeli troops breached a blast door at the end of a Hamas tunnel underneath Gaza's al-Shifa hospital, Israel Defense Forces spokesperson Daniel Hagari said on Tuesday. The IDF published two images, one showing the open blast door and the other showing further inside the tunnel. The news comes after the Israeli military said Sunday it found a 55-meter (180-foot) long and 10-meter (33-foot) deep tunnel under Gaza’s largest medical facility.
12:15 pm: In Algeria, Turkey’s Erdogan voices support for imminent Israel-Hamas deal
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed support on Tuesday for what appears to be an imminent deal between Israel and Hamas for the release of some hostages in Gaza, adding that his country was in contact with Qatar on the issue. Ezgi Akin reports from Ankara.
10:05 am: US confirms new strikes against militants in Iraq
A US AC-130 gunship responded last night to an attack on Ain Al-Asad air base, which houses US troops in Iraq’s Anbar province, US officials confirmed to Al-Monitor.
The US aircraft conducted strikes in self-defense against a militia suspected of carrying out the attack, which lightly injured at least one US personnel and damaged an empty warehouse, one of the officials told Al-Monitor.
Iraq’s Hashd al-Shaabi units released a statement saying one Kata’ib Hezbollah official had been killed in an engagement. The United States has not confirmed reports of any casualties.
10:00 am: Saudi crown prince calls for global arms ban on Israel
Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has called on all countries to stop exporting weapons to Israel amid the war in Gaza.
Roughly 79% of Israel's imported arms come from the United States, while 20% come from Germany, both staunch Israel allies.
The kingdom’s de facto ruler made the comments on Tuesday at a virtual summit of the BRICS group of major emerging economies, an increasingly powerful bloc Saudi Arabia joined earlier this year currently including Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, the Saudi Gazette reported. The group has agreed to expand and will include Saudi Arabia, Iran, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Argentina and Ethiopia in January 2024.
7:00 am: Qatar says hostage deal in 'final stage'
A Qatari official said on Tuesday that negotiations to free hostages in Hamas custody are at their “closest point” and have reached the “final stage.”
“We are at the closest point we ever had been in reaching an agreement,” Qatar’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Majed al-Ansari said.
Qatar and the United States have brokered indirect Israel-Hamas talks to free more than 230 hostages in return for a temporary cease-fire and entry of aid into Gaza.
“We are very optimistic, very hopeful, but we are also very keen for this mediation to succeed in reaching a humanitarian truce,” Ansari said in his weekly briefing.
Hamas political leader Ismail Haniyeh confirmed that the group is “approaching a truce agreement” with Israel.
5:00 am: Two reporters killed in Israeli strikes in south Lebanon
The Hezbollah-affiliated Al-Mayadeen channel said two of its journalists were killed in an Israeli airstrike in south Lebanon. The channel identified them as reporter Farah Omar and cameraman Rabih Mehmari. Local news outlets reported that a third person was killed in the same airstrike.
At least 50 journalists and media workers have been killed in the region since the Hamas-Israel war erupted Oct. 7, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. Last month, Reuters photojournalist Issam Abdallah was killed and six others injured in a strike in the southern Lebanese village of Alma al-Shaab, near the border with Israel, where Israeli forces and Hezbollah have been engaged in heavy cross-border fire for more than a month.
3:20 am: Lebanese army post hit by Israeli fire amid intense cross-border attacks
Lebanon’s official National News Agency said Israeli fire hit a Lebanese army post in the southern village of Wazzani, causing heavy material damages but no casualties. Earlier, the Israeli army said it struck several positions belonging to Hezbollah, including three anti-tank missile launch sites, in southern Lebanon in response to an anti-tank missile fired at a home in the border town of Metula in northern Israel and two other rocket attacks. Hezbollah said it targeted Israeli troops in Metula and claimed responsibility for another attack on the Israeli military site of Hadb al-Bustan. The Iran-backed Hezbollah movement has been engaged in heavy cross-border fire with Israeli forces since Hamas’ attack on southern Israel Oct. 7.
2:11 am: Hamas chief says truce with Israel near
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said his movement and Israel are close to announcing a truce agreement after more than a month of fighting in the Gaza Strip. Hamas has already delivered its response to Qatari mediators, the Qatar-based leader said in a statement to Reuters delivered by his aide, without adding more details. Washington has confirmed reports about an imminent deal to release dozens of hostages in exchange for a pause in the fighting in Gaza. Israel has been pounding the besieged enclave since Hamas’ cross-border attack Oct. 7, during which it killed around 1,200 people and took at least 240 others hostage.
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