According to a spokesperson from the Qatari Foreign Ministry, a four-day ceasefire will commence at 7 am local time on Friday in Gaza. The release of the first group of hostages is scheduled for later that day.
In recent news, the timeline for the Qatar-mediated deal was finally announced after a slight delay in its implementation. This agreement involves Hamas releasing a minimum of 50 Israeli women and children, in exchange for a temporary ceasefire in Gaza and the release of 150 Palestinian women and children who are currently held in Israeli prisons.
- Qatar has received the lists of the initial groups of Israeli hostages and Palestinian prisoners who are set to be released. This marks an important step towards the start of the deal’s implementation on Friday. The initial batch of hostages is anticipated to be freed by 4 pm local time.
- The military wing of Hamas has also confirmed that a temporary halt in hostilities is scheduled to commence on Friday at 7 am local time.
- Israel’s Prime Minister’s Office has confirmed that a list of hostages set to be released on Friday has been received. “The list is currently undergoing verification and the families are being informed,” stated the office.
According to Israeli officials who briefed reporters, the first phase of the deal will involve the release of the initial 50 hostages in four groups over the four-day pause.
- The Israeli officials also expressed a sense of hope that Hamas will agree to release more hostages if Israel extends the pause in fighting. As part of the agreement, Israel has agreed to extend the pause for every 10 additional hostages that are released.
- “According to one official, it is believed that Hamas is currently holding a significant number of women and children, estimated to be around 70-80. The priority is to ensure the safe release of all individuals involved,” the official stated.
Israeli estimates indicate that 40 children under the age of 19 and 13 mothers were taken to Gaza during the Oct. 7 terrorist attack.
- According to Israeli officials, it is believed that other factions in Gaza may be responsible for holding some of the children. However, they are prepared to offer incentives to Hamas in order to locate all of them.
- Over 240 individuals, including multiple Americans, were taken captive in the assault that occurred on October 7th. Four hostages, including two Americans, have been released, one has been rescued, and unfortunately, two others were found deceased.
In a statement, Adrienne Watson, spokesperson for the White House National Security Council, expressed appreciation for the announcement made by Qatar and expressed optimism about the release of hostages from Gaza tomorrow.
- The talks to secure the deal involved the highest levels of the Biden administration.
What to watch: Amidst the temporary halt in hostilities, it is anticipated that Israel will permit the entry of numerous trucks transporting much-needed humanitarian aid into Gaza on a daily basis.
- Additionally, there are expectations of increased fuel flow into the enclave. Health workers and aid groups emphasize the urgent need for aid and fuel in Gaza, as the health and humanitarian situation there continues to worsen.
- The UN aid chief, Martin Griffiths, expressed his concern about the dire humanitarian situation in Gaza, describing it as the most severe he has witnessed during his time at the UN.
- “No one attends school in Gaza, and uncertainty looms over their future.” Hospitals have transformed into battlegrounds, rather than sanctuaries of healing. “Hmm, I can’t recall ever coming across something like this,” Griffiths remarked.
Humanitarian organizations, such as the Norwegian Refugee Council, have expressed their appreciation for the anticipated halt in hostilities. They are urging the parties involved to utilize this opportunity to establish a lasting ceasefire.
“A few days of pause is insufficient to meet the extensive needs following six weeks of fighting, bloodshed, and destruction,” stated Jan Egeland, the secretary general of NRC, on Wednesday.
The Israeli government stated on Tuesday that it intends to persist with the conflict to secure the safe return of all hostages, eradicate Hamas, and ensure that Gaza poses no further threat to Israel.