Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that there “could be” a potential hostage deal with Hamas but declined to give any further details, saying it could thwart the delicate negotiations to free those taken captive by the militant group on Oct. 7.
“I think the less I say about it, the more I’ll increase the chances that it materializes” he said in an interview on NBC News’ “Meet the Press.”
It is just over a month since Hamas launched its terror attack on Israel on Oct. 7 in a brutal ambush that saw more than 1,200 killed and around 220 people taken hostage.
In the weeks that have followed, Israel’s relentless bombardment of Gaza in response has seen more than 11,000 people killed, while more than 1.6 million people have been displaced, according to health officials in the besieged enclave and estimates from the United Nations.
Asked by host Kristen Welker about how close Israel was to getting the hostages out, Netanyahu said that no deal had been close until his forces began the ground operation in Gaza.
“We heard that there was an impending deal of this kind or of that kind and then we learned that it was all hokum. But the minute we started the ground operation that began to change,” he said.
Pressed again by Welker on whether there is a potential deal to release more hostages, Netanyahu replied: “There could be.”
Any deal, was “the result of pressure, military pressure,” he said, before praising the work of the Israel Defense Forces. “That’s the one thing that might create a deal and if a deal is available. Well, we will talk about it when it’s there. We’ll announce it if it’s achievable,” he said.
Asked if he knew where all the hostages were being held right now, Netanyahu said: “We know a great deal, but I won’t go beyond that.”
A Biden administration official confirmed to NBC News on Sunday that a possible deal for the release of hostages that was being discussed.
This would see the release of about 80 women and children in exchange for the release of Palestinian women and teenagers held by Israel, the official, who was not authorized to speak publicly, said.
They added that the U.S. is also exploring other options and there is no certainty that any of them will succeed.