Hamas does not have 40 hostages that meet the terms of a potential exchange with Israel, an official says

A senior Hamas official said Wednesday that Hamas did not have 40 living hostages in Gaza who met the criteria for an exchange under the proposed ceasefire deal with Israel being negotiated.

A senior Israeli official said Israel had been conveyed Hamas's claim, and the senior Hamas official said the group had informed mediators facilitating the negotiations. The Israeli and Hamas officials requested anonymity due to the sensitivity of the negotiations.

The statement raised fears that more hostages may have died than previously believed and came as talks between Hamas and Israel stalled over disagreements over the continuation of the ceasefire, the return of displaced Palestinians to northern Gaza and other issues.

International negotiators have proposed an initial six-week ceasefire during which Hamas would release an initial group of 40 hostages – including women, elderly people, sick hostages and five female Israeli soldiers – in exchange for hundreds of Palestinians also held in Israeli prisons . like other requests.

Israeli officials believe there are about 130 hostages remaining in Gaza, and Israeli intelligence officials have concluded that at least 30 of those died in captivity.

It is not yet clear whether Israel will now demand that young men and soldiers be included among the first 40 prisoners released. Those hostages were expected to wait for a later stage of the deal.

The development came just days after the Israeli army said it had recovered the body of an Israeli hostage who, like around 240 others, had been kidnapped in the Hamas-led attack on October 7.

The Israeli government and Hamas held a brief ceasefire in Gaza in November to allow the release of around 100 hostages captured during the assault in exchange for the release of Palestinian prisoners held in Israel, offering a reprieve from a devastating bombing campaign.

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