Hamas: Truce agreement with Israel close

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh says his Palestinian Islamic group is close to reaching a truce agreement with Israel.

In a statement posted on social media on Tuesday, he also said Hamas had delivered its response to Qatar, which is mediating talks to secure the release of the hostages held by the group.

The Israeli military is continuing fierce attacks in the Gaza Strip.

It said on Tuesday that Israeli forces conducted air raids on 250 targets in the enclave on the previous day, killing many Hamas fighters.

The Israeli military reiterated its claim that Hamas is using residential houses for military purposes.

It said its soldiers had discovered a weapons stash at the home of a senior member of a Hamas combat unit, and also found an anti-tank missile hidden under a baby crib.

The military said Israeli forces conducted a ground operation, as well as air attacks, against the Jabalia refugee camp in northern Gaza. It said its troops had assaulted three tunnel shafts, in which Hamas fighters were hiding.

In Washington, US President Joe Biden suggested on Monday that a deal to secure the release of some of the Hamas-held hostages is near.

In his reply to a reporter at the White House on whether a hostage deal is close, Biden said, "I believe so."

The Washington Post reported on Saturday that Israel and Hamas are close to an agreement on a US-brokered deal that would free dozens of the hostages in exchange for a five-day pause in the fighting.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called securing the release of hostages a supreme mission, and said that Israel will not stop fighting until they are returned.

On Monday, the president of the International Committee of the Red Cross traveled to Qatar. Mirjana Spoljaric met Qatari officials and Haniyeh separately.

The ICRC said in a statement that it does not take part in negotiations leading to the release of hostages, but added that "as a neutral humanitarian intermediary," it remains "ready to facilitate any future release that the parties to the conflict agree to."