The Israeli government and Hamas have agreed to a four-day pause in fighting to allow the gradual release of 50 hostages held in Gaza, in exchange for 150 Palestinian prisoners in Israel and the entry of humanitarian aid into the besieged enclave. The agreement concerns both parties liberation of women and children. Hamas is believed to be holding more than 230 hostages, captured when its militants raided southern Israel on October 7, killing 1,200 people.
The mediation of Qatar, the USA and Egypt
The agreement, welcomed by many, was mediated in weeks of secret negotiations by Qatar, the USA and Egypt. Washington said that among the hostages to be released there would also be three American citizens, including a three-year-old girl. If implemented, the agreement would still leave around 190 hostages in Gaza, of which around half are believed to be soldiers. Not all the hostages are held by Hamas, some are in the hands of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a separate extremist faction, and other criminal gangs in Gaza. Most of the hostages are Israeli, but nearly half have dual nationalities, including Argentina, Germany, America, France, Thailand, Nepal and Russia. Hospitals in Israel are already ready to receive the released people, local media reported, according to which the release will take place through the Rafah crossing. The EU, Russia and China all welcomed the temporary truce, which Egypt, Qatar and Jordan say should now lead to more serious peace talks.
Agreement in force from tomorrow
The Israeli Justice Ministry has published a list with the names of 300 Palestinian prisoners who could be freed. A necessary move, to allow those who wish, within 24 hours, to appeal to the Supreme Court against their release; as, moreover, an association of victims of terrorism has already announced it will do. This is why the agreement should come into force starting tomorrow. According to US sources, the first hostages will be released tomorrow morning and their total number could increase. The agreement, which was opposed to the end by the three far-right ministers in the Israeli government, includes an incentive clause: for every 10 additional hostages released by Hamas, the truce will be extended by another day, but in this case there is no mention of the further release of Palestinian prisoners.
Netanyhau, «Right decision, then the war will resume»
The Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyhau, spoke of the “right decision”, warning however that after the pause the war will resume. «The Israeli government is committed to bringing all the hostages home. This evening it approved the proposed agreement as the first step to achieve this objective”, reads the official government statement published last night. The truce agreement will also allow hundreds of trucks of humanitarian, medical and fuel aid to enter Gaza, Hamas said, according to which Israel has committed not to attack or arrest anyone throughout the Strip during the break period.
That’s not enough for Biden
The president of the United States, Joe Biden, welcomed the conclusion of the arduous negotiation. “The agreement should bring home more American hostages and I will not stop until they are all released,” promised the head of the White House, while Secretary of State Antony Blinken is expected to make a new visit to the Middle East next week .
The first respite after 6 weeks
The agreement is the first truce in more than six weeks of fighting in which the Israeli army razed large parts of the Hamas-ruled Strip, killing more than 13,000 civilians and leaving about two-thirds of its 2.3 million people homeless. inhabitants, according to data from the Gaza authorities. Netanyahu reiterated that Israel’s broader mission remained unchanged. «We are at war and we will continue the war until we achieve all our objectives. Destroy Hamas, return all our hostages and ensure that no entity in Gaza can threaten Israel again”, explained the prime minister under growing internal pressure due to his management of the crisis.
Propaganda for Hamas
The deal is a significant propaganda coup for Hamas and a personal victory for Yahya Sinwar, the terrorist group’s leader in Gaza and mastermind of the October 7 assault, according to Israel. “As we announce the signing of a ceasefire agreement, we affirm that our fingers remain on the trigger and that our victorious fighters will remain alert to defend our people and defeat the occupation,” Hamas warned.
Qatar confirmed the reaching of an agreement between Israel and Hamas for a truce of at least 4 days in Gaza and the release of 50 hostages including women and children compared to 150 Palestinian prisoners. “The start time of the pause will be announced within the next 24 hours (to give Israeli citizens the opportunity to appeal to the Supreme Court and ask to block the release of Palestinian prisoners); it will last four days and is subject to extension,” Doha said in a statement cited by international media. Israel has published – on the website of the Ministry of Justice – a list of 300 Palestinian detainees who could be released. Includes names, ages and crimes of release candidates.
Netanyahu speaks of “right decision”warning however that after the pause the war will resume. Biden said he was “extremely satisfied”, thanked “Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani of Qatar and President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi of Egypt for their collaboration in reaching this agreement” and said he was “extraordinarily gratified” at the thought of the imminent liberation of the hostages. Among those released there will also be 3 Americans. Also there Russia welcomes the humanitarian ceasefire agreement. This was written by the RIA news agency, which quotes the spokeswoman of the Russian Foreign Ministry Maria Zakharova. Meanwhile Blinken will be in the Middle East next week. UN Security Council meeting today. The US president will not participate in today’s virtual G20 with Putin.
Herzog, agreement ‘painful and difficult, I support Netanyahu’
Israeli President Isaac Herzog defined the hostage agreement concluded with Hamas as “painful and difficult”, but specified that he “supported” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision.
“The reservations are understandable, painful and difficult, but under the circumstances I support the decision of the prime minister and the government to move forward with the agreement to release the hostages,” Herzog said on X.
“This is a moral and ethical duty that correctly expresses the Jewish and Israeli value of guaranteeing the freedom of those held captive, with the hope that it will be a significant first step towards bringing all the hostages home – continues the president -. The State of Israel, the IDF and all security forces will continue to act in every way possible to achieve this goal, along with the restoration of absolute security for the citizens of Israel.”
Lebanon, Nasrallah-Hamas leader meeting after agreement
Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah met with the deputy head of the Hamas Political Bureau, Khalil al-Hayyah, and Hamas representative in Lebanon, Osama Hamdan. Haaretz reports it. The meeting, writes the Israeli newspaper, is part of the coordination between Hezbollah and Hamas on the consequences of the agreement for the release of the hostages. Al-Hayyah is also in contact with Egyptian intelligence and was involved in mediation efforts coordinated by Qatar, Haaretz writes.
Hamas, Israel orders evacuation of Indonesian hospital
Gaza’s Hamas-run Health Ministry told broadcaster Al Jazeera that the Israeli army had ordered the evacuation of the Indonesian hospital. The official Palestinian news agency Wafa reports that a hospital official received a message with “a special warning”. The Israeli army says it has information about military activity inside the facility and is calling for “the immediate suspension of all military actions” inside the hospital. “If such activities do not stop within 4 hours – reads the message -, the army reserves the right to undertake activities against them in accordance with international laws”.
Israel, war will continue at the end of the truce
The Israeli army will “continue its war” against Hamas after the end of the truce in the Gaza Strip, the Israeli government assured today. “The Israeli government, the Israeli army and the security forces will continue the war to return all abductees, eliminate Hamas and ensure that there are no further threats to the State of Israel from Gaza,” the executive said in a statement.