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According to a report in the Washington Post late yesterday, Israeli and Hamas negotiators, mediated by Qatar, are close to an agreement which would see a five-day pause in the Israeli offensive in return for the release of 50 of the hostages held by Hamas, mostly women and children. A detailed, six-page set of written terms would require all parties to the conflict to freeze combat operations for at least five days while an initial 50 or more hostages are released in smaller batches every 24 hours, the Post reports. Overhead surveillance would monitor movement on the ground to police the pause. The stop in fighting is also intended to allow a significant increase in the amount of humanitarian assistance, including fuel, to enter the besieged enclave from Egypt. “We’ve made some progress recently and have been working hard to advance this, but it remains a volatile situation,” an administration official said on Nov. 18 on condition of anonymity.

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