In a major development, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that the deal to secure the release of some 240 hostages held by Hamas has not been made with the terror group "as of now" and dismissed "a lot of incorrect reports"-- a wide claim made in media after a statement by the Biden official. Netanyahu asserted that if a deal emerges the Israeli public will be updated.
This comes during an evening press conference on Saturday, he said, "We are marching with you, I am marching with you, all of the people of Israel are marching with you," referring to the five-day march that families of the hostages undertook from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem ending Saturday, adding that he invited families of hostages to meet with the war cabinet in the coming week.
White House claims it has been working to broker deal
Netanyahu's statement comes after White House National Security Council Spokesperson Adrienne Watson said the US is working hard to broker a deal between Israel, the US and Hamas to free hostages held in Gaza in exchange for a five-day pause in fighting.
"We have not reached a deal yet, but we continue to work hard to get to a deal," the White House National Security Council spokesperson said in response to a report by The Washington Post.
The Times of Israel reported that the premier was later asked if he had passed up a serious deal on Tuesday for the release of some 50 hostages and if he was insisting that all be released. Netanyahu responded that "there was no deal on the table" and he could not elaborate further. "We want to get back all the hostages," he said.
"We're doing the utmost to bring back the most possible, including in stages, and we are united on this." "We obviously want to bring [home] whole families together," he added later.
It is worth mentioning Hamas seized about 240 hostages on October 7 when they surged across Gaza's militarized border into southern Israel to kill around 1,200 people, mostly civilians who were massacred at their homes and fleeing a music festival amid brutal atrocities.
The hostages are of all ages and include young children and elderly people as well as Thai and Nepali nationals. It reported that The Washington Post reported Saturday that Israel, the United States and Hamas were "close" to an agreement that would free dozens of women and children held hostage in Gaza in exchange for a five-day pause in hostilities.
(With inputs from agency)