July 12, 2024

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Israel-Gaza ceasefire set to begin as families await hostage release

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A tentative four-day ceasefire between Israel and Hamas is set to begin, setting the ground for the staggered release of 50 hostages held by Hamas and 150 Palestinian prisoners in Israel.

The Qatari-brokered ceasefire was set to begin at 7am on Friday. If it holds, the two sides will begin exchanging hostages, and humanitarian assistance — including much-needed fuel — will be allowed into the besieged enclave.

The swap could result in the return of as many as 50 civilians captured from Israel during Hamas’s October 7 cross-border attack to their families. But it could collapse over various obstacles, including if a smaller militant group, the Iran-backed Palestinian Islamic Jihad, fails to abide by the ceasefire agreed between its Gazan rival and Israeli foe.

Qatar, which announced the ceasefire on Thursday, said the first 13 hostages would be handed over to Israeli authorities around 4pm on Friday. The families of the women and children have been informed that their names are on a list for release after 48 days of captivity.

“The aim is for this deal to end with a lasting truce,” Majed Al-Ansari, spokesperson for Qatar’s foreign ministry, said at a press conference on Thursday.

The hostages are believed to be in good health, despite enduring Israel’s bombardment and ground invasion of the Gaza Strip alongside the territory’s 2.3mn residents. The Israeli operation has reduced much of Gaza to rubble and killed more than 13,300 people, according to Palestinian health officials.

Israel will continue to fight after the ceasefire, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday night.

“This fight is not about to end at the moment. It will end when it ends,” he said. “But we need to buy time — we are in a war; it will continue.”

Qatar on Thursday dispatched more than 40 tonnes of aid for Gaza, which it said would arrive…



2023-11-24 00:31:52

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