June 25, 2024

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Israel approves hostage deal with Hamas

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Israel and Hamas have agreed a deal for the release of at least 50 civilian hostages in Gaza in exchange for Palestinian prisoners and a four-day halt to hostilities.

The Israeli prime minister’s office said it had approved an agreement that would include a four-day “pause in fighting” to facilitate the release of the first 50 captives. Up to 50 more could be freed in a second phase, with an additional day’s ceasefire for every additional 10 hostages released.

But there were signs of potential delay in implementing the deal. Israeli national security adviser Tzachi Hanegbi said on Wednesday evening the release of hostages will start “not before Friday”, according to news agencies.

Mousa Abu Marzouk, a senior Hamas political leader based in Qatar, had earlier told Al Jazeera that the temporary truce would start at 10am local time on Thursday.

The pause, which will be the most prolonged cessation in the conflict since the Palestinian militant group’s deadly October 7 attack on Israel, is to be accompanied by an influx of humanitarian aid — including fuel — into Gaza. This would allow 200 trucks of aid into the coastal enclave a day, according to people familiar with the deal.

Israel will initially release up to 150 Palestinian women and children from its prisons, and could free up to 150 more in the second phase. The Israeli justice ministry published the names of about 300 prisoners who could be included in the deal.

The Israeli public has 24 hours to appeal against the agreement, and one group, the Almagor Terror Victims Association, said it would do so. In the past, the Israeli supreme court has rejected such appeals.

The hostages being held in the enclave will be released in batches as Israel and Hamas test the durability of the deal. Their release will be staggered over four days.

A person with knowledge of the deal said Hizbollah, the Iran-backed Lebanese militia group, would abide by the terms of the pause in hostilities “if Israel…

2023-11-22 18:46:51

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