Palestinian militant group Hamas said on Tuesday that it is close to “reaching a deal on a truce” with Israel, AFP reported.

Ismail Haniyeh, the chairman of Hamas’ political bureau, made the announcement as Israel’s war on Gaza entered its 46th day.

“The movement delivered its response to the brothers in Qatar and the mediators, and we are close to reaching a truce agreement,” Haniyeh said on Telegram. Qatar, where Hamas has a political office, has been mediating between the militant group and Israel.

The agreement is expected to include a pause in fighting for three to five days and increased humanitarian aid across Gaza, including the transfer of injured citizens to other nations for medical care. Hamas and Israel are both expected to release hostages in their custody, Al Jazeera reported.

Over 13,000 Palestinians, including around 5,500 children, have died in Gaza in relentless air and ground strikes from Israeli forces.

On Saturday, The Washington Post cited “people familiar with the emerging terms” to report that the proposed agreement would involve Hamas freeing dozens of women and children being held hostage in Gaza, and all parties to the conflict freezing combat operations for at least five days. However, at the time, the United States and Israel denied that any such deal had been finalised.

Negotiations notwithstanding, fierce fighting continues in the besieged territory. Israeli military forces have attacked Gaza’s Nuseirat and Jabalia refugee camps, in addition to a United Nations school in Al-Falouja, Reuters reported. They also reportedly stepped up bombardment near the Indonesian Hospital and Kamal Adwan Hospital in north Gaza.

While airstrikes and ground assaults have so far remained concentrated in northern Gaza, Israel has indicated that it may expand its offensive in south Gaza as well, where millions of refugees are sheltered. Leaflets were recently dropped in parts of the Khan Younis city warning people to flee the region.

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