World

Hamas, Israel reach four-day truce, hostage release deal

Israel’s government and Hamas on Wednesday agreed to a four-day pause in fighting to allow the release of 50 hostages held in Gaza in exchange for 150 Palestinians imprisoned in Israel, and the entry of humanitarian aid into the besieged enclave.

Officials from Qatar, which has been mediating negotiations, as well as the US, Israel and Hamas have for days been saying a deal was imminent.

Hamas is believed to be holding more than 200 hostages, taken when its fighters surged into Israel on Oct. 7, killing 1,200 people, according to Israeli tallies.

A statement by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Office said 50 women and children will be released over four days, during which there will be a pause in fighting.

For every additional 10 hostages released, the pause would be extended by another day, it said, without mentioning the release of Palestinian prisoners in exchange.

“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,” said the statement, released after hours of deliberation that were closed to the press.

Hamas said the 50 hostages would be released in exchange for 150 Palestinian women and children who are held in Israeli jails. The truce deal will also allow hundreds of trucks of humanitarian, medical and fuel aid to enter Gaza, Hamas said.

Israel had committed not to attack or arrest anyone in all parts of Gaza during the truce period, it added.

The accord is the first truce of a war in which Israeli bombardments have flattened swathes of Hamas-ruled Gaza, killed 13,300 civilians in the tiny densely populated enclave and left about two-thirds of its 2.3 million people homeless, according to authorities in Gaz

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