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To be signed “Israeli Officials Agree to Release 50 Captives from Gaza, Truce Agreement to Be Finalized


TEL AVIV ‍— Israel’s ‌government and Hamas on Wednesday agreed to a four-day pause in fighting to allow the release of ⁣50 hostages held in Gaza in exchange for⁤ 150 Palestinians imprisoned in Israel, ⁣and the entry of humanitarian aid into the besieged enclave.

Officials from Qatar, which has been mediating negotiations, as well as the U.S., Israel ​and ‌Hamas, have for days been saying a deal was imminent.

Hamas is believed⁤ to be⁤ holding more than 200 hostages, taken when its fighters ⁤surged ⁢into Israel on Oct. ⁣7, killing 1,200 people, according to Israeli tallies.

A ⁣statement by Israeli Prime ⁤Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said 50 ⁤women and children will be released over ⁤four days, during which‌ there will be a pause in fighting.

For every additional 10 hostages released, the⁢ pause would be extended‌ by another day, it ⁢said, without mentioning the release‌ of Palestinian prisoners in exchange.

“Israel’s government is committed​ to return all ⁢the ‍hostages‍ home. Tonight, it approved ⁣the proposed deal as ​a first‍ stage to achieving this goal,” said the‍ statement, released after hours of deliberation that were‍ closed to the press.

Hamas said the 50 hostages would be released in exchange ‌for‌ 150 Palestinian women and children who are‍ held in Israeli jails. The truce deal will also⁣ allow hundreds of trucks ⁣of humanitarian,​ medical ⁣and fuel aid to enter Gaza, ⁣Hamas said.

Israel ⁢had committed not to‌ attack⁣ or arrest ​anyone in all ⁢parts of ⁣Gaza ⁤during⁣ the⁣ truce period, it added.

The accord is the first truce of a⁢ war ⁤in which Israeli bombardments​ have ​flattened swaths‌ of Hamas-ruled ‌Gaza, ‌killed‍ 13,300 civilians in the ‍tiny, densely populated ⁣enclave and‍ left about two-thirds of⁣ its​ 2.3 million people homeless, according to authorities ‌in Gaza.

Before gathering​ with his full government, ⁣Netanyahu met on Tuesday with his war cabinet and wider national ⁤security cabinet ‌over the deal.

Ahead of the announcement of the deal,⁣ Netanyahu said‌ the intervention of⁢ President Joe‌ Biden had helped⁤ to improve the tentative agreement so that‍ it⁢ included more hostages⁢ and fewer‍ concessions.

But Netanyahu said⁢ Israel’s broader mission had not ⁢changed.

“We are at war and⁣ we will⁤ continue⁣ the ‌war​ until⁣ we achieve all our goals. To destroy Hamas, return all our hostages and ensure that no entity ‍in Gaza can threaten Israel,” ⁢he said in a recorded message at the start of the government meeting.

Three​ Americans, including a⁢ 3-year-old girl whose ​parents were ‍among those killed during Hamas’s Oct. 7 ‌attack, are ​expected ‍to⁣ be among the hostages to be released, a ⁢senior U.S. official said.

Israeli ‌media including Channel 12 news said the first release⁢ of ⁢hostages was expected on Thursday.​ Implementing⁢ the deal​ must wait for 24 ‍hours ⁣to give Israeli citizens the chance to​ ask‍ the Supreme Court to block ‌the release of Palestinian ‌prisoners, reports said.

Hamas has to ⁤date ⁤released only‍ four captives: U.S. citizens Judith Raanan, 59, and⁣ her daughter, Natalie Raanan, ⁤17, on Oct. 20, citing‌ “humanitarian ‌reasons,” and⁢ Israeli women Nurit Cooper, 79, ⁤and​ Yocheved Lifshitz, 85,⁤ on Oct. ​23.

The armed wing ⁣of the ⁤Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad, which participated⁢ in the Oct. 7 raid with Hamas, ⁣said ​late on Tuesday that one of the Israeli hostages it has⁣ held since⁤ the Oct. 7 attacks on Israel had died.

“We previously expressed our willingness to release her for humanitarian reasons, but the⁢ enemy⁣ was stalling​ and this led to‌ her death,” Al Quds Brigades said ⁣on its Telegram channel.

Hospital ordered to ⁢evacuate

As‌ attention focused on the hostage release⁣ deal, fighting on ‍the ground raged on. Mounir Al-Barsh, director-general of Gaza’s health ministry, ​told Al Jazeera TV that the Israeli military ordered the evacuation​ of the Indonesian Hospital in Gaza ‍City. Israel said militants were operating from the facility and threatened to act⁣ against them within four⁤ hours, he ⁤said.

Hospitals, including Gaza’s⁤ biggest Al Shifa, ‍have been rendered​ virtually inoperable‌ by the conflict​ and shortages⁢ of critical supplies. ⁢Israel claims that Hamas conceals military command⁣ posts‍ and fighters within them, a claim ‍that Hamas and hospital ⁤staff deny.

On Tuesday, Israel also said ‌its‌ forces had encircled the Jabalia refugee​ camp, a congested​ urban extension ‌of Gaza City where Hamas has been‍ battling advancing Israeli​ armored forces.

The Palestinian news ⁤agency‌ WAFA said 33 ⁣people⁤ were killed and dozens⁢ wounded in an Israeli air⁤ strike on part of Jabalia.

According⁢ to the‌ United Nations, most Palestinians in Gaza are registered as refugees because they⁣ or their ancestors were ⁤displaced by the 1948 war of Israel’s creation.

In‍ southern Gaza, ‍Hamas-affiliated media said‍ 10 people were killed ⁤and ‍22 injured by an Israeli air strike⁣ on an apartment in ⁢the ​city of Khan Younis.

Reuters⁢ could not immediately ‌verify the accounts of fighting on either side.

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  1. I agree with this decision. It’s a step towards peace which is absolutely commendable. The truce agreement will further help in de-escalating the tension. Two thumbs up for diplomacy!

  2. I’m with you on this one, Benjamin! This is a momentous stride towards peace. Can’t wait to see the fruition of this truce agreement. Hurrah for diplomacy!

  3. I wholeheartedly concur with the sentiments expressed here. This is indeed a praiseworthy move towards a peaceful coexistence. Hoping for nothing but the best outcome from this truce agreement and a brighter tomorrow. Kudos to diplomacy!


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