PM Benjamin Netanyahu
PM Benjamin NetanyahuChaim Goldberg/Flash90

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday night spoke about the progress in talks for a prisoner swap deal to free the Israelis kidnapped to Gaza on October 7.

"We are working to achieve another deal to free our hostages, as well as eliminating Hamas battalions in Rafah," Netanyahu said. "Therefore, I sent a delegation to Paris, and we will speak this evening about the next steps in the negotiations."

Netanyahu also emphasized that Israel intends to operate in Rafah: "At the beginning of the week, I will gather the Cabinet to approve the plans for operational action in Rafah, including evacuating the civilian population from there. Only the integration of military pressure and firm negotiations will bring about a release of our hostages, the elimination of Hamas, and the achievement of all of the goals of the war."

The proposed deal would see a first stage in which 35-40 hostages are released: women, children, the elderly, and the ailing (including young ailing). One report defined "elderly" as over 50, while another defined it as over 60.

In exchange for these hostages, Israel will agree to a ceasefire of several weeks, without committing to ending the war. The negotiators hope to utilize the ceasefire for negotiations regarding a more comprehensive deal which would extend the ceasefire.

The negotiators also hope to finalize the agreement within the coming two weeks, so that it takes effect before the start of Ramadan on March 10.

Meanwhile, reports say that hundreds of convicted terrorists, including those with blood on their hands, will be freed in exchange for the Israeli hostages.