Canada awaiting news of possible deal between Israel, Hamas to release hostages: Joly

Hostage deal near?

Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly says Canada is closely watching for a potential deal between Israel and Hamas to release hostages.

Joly says Canada expects that any deal will include the freeing of all hostages, permission for all foreign nationals to leave the Gaza Strip and substantially more humanitarian aid for those in the besieged territory.

Senior Hamas officials say that an agreement could be reached today in which the militant group would release hostages and Israel would free Palestinian prisoners.

The possible breakthrough follows weeks of negotiations between Israel, the U.S. and Qatar, after Hamas gunmen and their allies killed an estimated 1,200 people and captured roughly 240 hostages on Oct. 7.

Israel's army is widening its military operations today across northern Gaza, part of a retaliation campaign that the territory's health officials say has killed more than 12,700 people.

No Canadians were added today to a list of foreign nationals approved to cross into Egypt from the territory, where Joly says about 200 people with ties to Canada are still waiting for a chance to get out.

Ottawa says more than 450 Canadians, permanent residents and their relatives have made the trip out of the Palestinian territory since the conflict began.

Joly told reporters that she spoke about a possible hostage deal with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken last week, and that she discussed it on Tuesday morning with her Qatari counterpart.

"What we expect from this deal is we want to make sure that all hostages are released, that all foreign nationals are allowed to get out of Gaza — including, of course, the around 200 Canadians that are still in Gaza — and humanitarian (aid) needs to be able to get in, and way more than has been allowed to at this point," she told reporters on Parliament Hill on Tuesday.

"We are still calling for humanitarian pauses, a humanitarian truce, which would lead to a potential ceasefire."

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