Palestinian militant group Hamas has proposed a three-phase ceasefire plan that would stretch for four and a half months to end Israel’s war on Gaza, Reuters reported on Wednesday.

The proposal came in response to a plan drawn up by the United States, Israel, Egypt and Qatar and communicated to Hamas last week. Qatar has been working with the US and Egypt to broker a truce and ensure an end to Israel’s air and ground offensive in Gaza, which has entered its fifth month.

On October 7, Hamas militants carried out an attack on southern Israel, killing 1,200 people. The group had also taken more than 200 hostages, including Israeli, American and Thai citizens.

Israel’s unprecedented strikes on Gaza since then have killed over 27,700 Palestinians and injured more than 67,100 persons, reported Al Jazeera. Several aid agencies have also said that the besieged territory is dealing with a humanitarian crisis as nearly 85% of the population has been displaced.

In its proposal, Hamas has stated that all hostages would be released in exchange for Israel freeing hundreds of imprisoned Palestinians, including senior militants.

The group has said that in the first 45-day phase of the truce, it will release all Israeli women hostages, males under 19 years, the elderly and those who are sick, in exchange for Palestinian women and children held in Israeli jails.

Tel Aviv should also withdraw its troops from populated areas of Gaza in this phase. The period should see “intensification of the entry of necessary and sufficient quantities for the population’s needs [to be determined] of humanitarian aid and fuel daily”, according to the proposal.

Hamas has demanded the reconstruction of hospitals across Gaza and that the establishment of camps to shelter the population should begin in the first 45 days, according to The Palestine Chronicle.

Implementation of the second phase would not begin until the sides conclude “indirect talks over the requirements needed to end the mutual military operations and return to complete calm”.

“This stage aims to release all detained men [civilians and conscripts], in exchange for specific numbers of Palestinian prisoners, continuation of humanitarian measures from the first stage, withdrawal of Israeli forces outside the borders of all Gaza Strip areas, and commencement of comprehensive reconstruction of houses, facilities, and infrastructure,” Hamas’ response reportedly read.

The third stage would see the exchange of the bodies and remains of the deceased between the two sides after their identification.

The proposal, if accepted, would effectively leave Gaza in control of Hamas.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met Netanyahu on Wednesday to discuss the proposal.

In January, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that he told United States President Joe Biden that he rejects Hamas demands for a ceasefire, the withdrawal of Israeli troops and the release of Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the remaining hostages.

Netanyahu said that accepting the demands would mean that another Hamas attack “would only be a matter of time”. He also rejected the US’ call for post-war plans, including paving the way to establish a Palestinian state.

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