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Israel, Hamas Agree to 4-Day Truce: 50 Hostages, 150 Palestinians to be Freed

The Qatari-brokered deal came through a day after Israeli media reported heated exchanges between ministers of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, with only 3 out 38 voting against the truce.
The Qatari-brokered deal came through a day after Israeli media reported heated exchanges between ministers of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, with only 3 out 38 voting against the truce.

Image Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

One and half months after Hamas attacked Israel, and the latter flattened vast swaths of Gaza, which is home to about 2.3 million people, and the death of 14,100 Gazans and 1,200 Israelis, the two warring sides have agreed to a four-day pause and the release of about 50 hostages in exchange for 150 Palestinian prisoners.

Officials from Qatar, the United States, Israel and Hamas have for days been suggesting a deal was imminent.

In a statement issued later, Qatar confirmed the “success” of mediation efforts, which also involved Egypt and the United States, and confirmed the broad parameters of the agreement.

“The starting time of the pause will be announced within the next 24 hours and last for four days, subject to extension,” the statement said.

It confirmed that humanitarian aid would be sent to Gaza and that 50 women and children held captive there would be released in exchange for “a number of Palestinian women and children detained in Israeli prisons”.

“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,” the statement read.

A Hamas member told AFP, “The resistance is committed to the truce as long as the occupation honours it.”

The truce agreement will also allow hundreds of trucks of humanitarian and medical aid and fuel to enter Gaza, Hamas said in a statement, adding that Israel had promised not to attack or arrest anyone in Gaza during the ceasefire, Reuters reported.

Hamas has around 200 hostages, including more than 50% holding foreign and dual citizenship from some 40 countries—the US, Thailand, Britain, France, Argentina, Germany, Chile, Spain and Portugal.

Qadura Fares, head of the Commission for Prisoners’ Affairs in the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority, told Reuters that among more than 7,800 Palestinian prisoners, about 85 are women and 350 minors. “Most were detained without charges or for incidents such as hurling rocks at Israeli soldiers, not for launching militant attacks,” he said.

Qatar’s chief negotiator and minister of state at the foreign ministry Mohammed Al-Khulaifi told Reuters that the International Committee of the Red Cross would be working inside Gaza to facilitate the hostages’ release.

“No attack whatsoever. No military movements, no expansion—nothing,” he said, adding that Qatar hopes the deal “will be a seed to a bigger agreement and a permanent cease of fire. And that’s our intention.”

Hamas has released four hostages since October 7: US citizens Judith Raanan (59) and her daughter Natalie Raanan (17) citing “humanitarian reasons” and Israeli women Nurit Cooper (79) and Yocheved Lifshitz (85).

Despite the ceasefire, both Israel and Hamas are committed to their mission.

“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,” Netanyahu said in a recorded message at the start of the government meeting.

Hamas said in its statement: “As we announce the striking of a truce agreement, we affirm that our fingers remain on the trigger, and our victorious fighters will remain on the lookout to defend our people and defeat the occupation.”


According to Israeli media, Netanyahu’s 38-member Cabinet was divided over the deal with ultra-Right ministers opposing any ceasefire till the early hours of Wednesday morning. Fortunately, only national security minister Itamar Ben-Gvir and two other members of his far-Right political party voted against the deal, Al Jazeera reported.

Thanking Qatar and Egypt for their mediation in securing the deal, an “extraordinarily gratified” US President Joe Biden said in a statement: “… some of these brave souls, who have endured weeks of captivity and an unspeakable ordeal, will be reunited with their families once this deal is fully implemented”.

Thanking the Qatar Emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, and Egypt’s President, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, for their “critical leadership and partnership”, US President Joe Biden welcomed the deal.

“I look forward to speaking with each of these leaders and staying in close contact as we work to ensure this deal is carried through in its entirety,” the White House said in a statement. “It is important that all aspects of this deal be fully implemented.”

On Tuesday, China’s President Xi Jinping, addressing a BRICS summit, also called for ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas conflict, the release of all civilian captives and the implementation of a two-state solution for lasting peace in the strife-torn region.

He said without a ‘just settlement’ of the Palestinian question, there will be no enduring peace and stability in West Asia.

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