Israel announces ceasefire and hostage release deal

Late Tuesday night the Israeli government approved a Qatari-brokered deal that would see 50 hostages released in exchange for 150 Palestinian prisoners and a four-day temporary ceasefire.

Israel announces ceasefire and hostage release deal
AP Photo/Mahmoud Abo Salamah
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The Israeli government late on Tuesday night approved a Qatari-brokered deal with Hamas that would see 50 hostages exchanged for 150 Palestinian prisoners and a temporary ceasefire. 

On Wednesday, Hamas said that a four-day truce would begin on Thursday at 10:00 a.m. The release of 10 additional hostages could reportedly extend the lull in fighting for an additional day per group of 10.

240 captives have been held by Hamas and Gazan other terror groups since its surprise attack on southern Israel on Oct. 7. They include foreign nationals and Israeli civilians including women and children as young as 10 months old.

According to the Times of Israel, an Israeli government official told reporters that the deal involves the release of 50 living Israeli citizens, who are expected to be children, mothers, and other women. The hostages will be released in groups of 12-13 people over the course of four days. 

In exchange for the initial 50 hostages, Israel will release 150 teenage and female Palestinian security prisoners. On Wednesday, the government published a list of 300 prisoners who are up for release. While none have been convicted of murder, many were sentenced for attempted murder, rioting and rock-throwing. The release of additional Israeli hostages would see more of the Palestinian prisoners released.

Israel has agreed to disproportionate exchanges for hostages or the bodies of deceased soldiers on several occasions. In 2011, the Jewish state released 1,027 Palestinian prisoners, among them convicted terrorists, in exchange for the return of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. 

Other elements of the deal include Israel allowing the entry of fuel and expanded humanitarian aid into the strip. According to Hamas, Israel also agreed to stop drone flights over southern Gaza and only perform them in the north during the window of 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. 

The Israeli government also said that part of the deal includes allowing the Red Cross access to the remaining hostages.  

A statement by the Israeli government said that Israel would continue its war to return all the hostages, eliminate Hamas, and prevent any future threat from Gaza. 

Benny Gantz, a member of the war cabinet alongside Defence Minister Yoav Gallant and Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said the deal  “is the basis for continuing the necessary operational efforts [in Gaza], including in the southern arena and possibly in other arenas.”

“I will say honestly – this [hostage deal] is a difficult outline, it is painful, but it is also right,” said Gantz.

The hostage deal was negotiated by Qatari officials, who have been involved in previous mediation efforts between Israel and Hamas, in partnership with Egypt and the United States. Several of Hamas's senior leaders reside in Qatar and have close ties to the Qatari government

Fighting between Hamas and the Israel Defence Forces was still ongoing on Wednesday. The IDF continues to urge Gazans to move southwards as they expand fighting in the north of the strip. 

Over 1,200 Israelis have been killed so far in the ongoing war. The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza claims that 13,000 people have been killed, but these numbers cannot be independently verified and do not distinguish between civilians and terrorists. 


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