Israel-Hamas war, Iran attack fears, Gaza Eid celebrations ruined

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People carry pictures of the hostages during a rally for their immediate release near the Knesset, Israel’s parliament in Jerusalem, on April 7. Ronen Zvulun/Reuters

Hamas has indicated it is currently unable to identify and track down 40 Israeli hostages needed for the first phase of a proposed ceasefire deal, according to an Israeli official and a source familiar with the discussions, raising fears that more hostages may be dead than are publicly known.

The framework laid out by negotiators proposes that during a first six-week pause in fighting, Hamas should release 40 of the remaining hostages, including all the women as well as sick and elderly men. In exchange, hundreds of Palestinian prisoners would be released from Israeli prisons.

Hamas has told international mediators – which include Qatar and Egypt — it does not have 40 living hostages who match those criteria for release, both sources said.

CNN’s record of the conditions of the hostages also suggests there are fewer than 40 living hostages who meet the proposed criteria.

The inability — or unwillingness — of Hamas to tell Israel which hostages would be released, alive, is a major obstacle, the second source added.

With Hamas appearing to be unable to reach 40 in the proposed categories, Israel has pushed for Hamas to fill out the initial release with younger male hostages, including soldiers, the Israeli official said.

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