There will be an exchange of hostages later today after a four-day truce in the Israel-Hamas war takes effect, mediator Qatar said. A four-day pause has followed nearly seven weeks of intense fighting.
According to Qatar’s foreign ministry, Hamas will release the first group of hostages around 7.30 pm IST, after the ceasefire began at 10.30 am IST. Thirteen women and children from the same families would make up the “first batch” of civilian hostages. As a result of the Qatar-US deal, the number would rise to 50 over the four days.
In response to receiving “the first list of names” of those scheduled for release, the office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said it was in contact with the families of the hostages.
Majed Al Ansari, a spokesman for Qatar’s foreign ministry, said Friday that Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails would also be released.
Qatar and the US orchestrated the accord and announced it earlier this week. During the weeks leading up to the agreement, US President Joe Biden engaged in tense personal diplomatic engagements with Qatar’s Emir and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
According to the agreement, hostages would be released in a safe environment after a complete ceasefire, with no air or ground attacks.
Just minutes after a force came into force, Israel sounded sirens in two villages near Gaza, warning of possible rocket attacks from the Hamas-ruled territory. However, no damage was reported as a result of rocket attacks.
Officials inside Hamas-ruled Gaza City said a hospital was among the targets bombed in the hours leading up to the truce. A pause in fighting was also announced by both sides as being temporary.
As a result of a Hamas attack on October 7, the Israeli Defense Forces launched an offensive in Gaza. As a result of Hamas’ burst across the border fence and raids in southern Israel, nearly 240 hostages were taken, most of whom were civilians.
According to Palestinian health authorities, around 40% of Gazans who have died as a result of Israeli bombardment have been children. The Israeli bombardment has, however, made it increasingly difficult to keep an accurate count as the health service has collapsed.
The risk of the conflict escalating and spilling into the Middle East has increased international pressure on Israel to end the war.
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