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Israel, Hamas to start first truce in Gaza war

Israel and Hamas are scheduled to initiate a four-day truce starting Friday morning, marking a temporary pause in the ongoing conflict that has severely impacted the Gaza Strip. The ceasefire, set to begin at 7 am local time, encompasses a comprehensive halt to hostilities in both northern and southern Gaza. As part of the agreement, Hamas is expected to release the first group of hostages, consisting of 13 Israeli women and children, later in the day. These hostages were taken during an October 7 attack by Hamas inside Israel.

Despite the truce announcement, clashes persisted in the lead-up to the ceasefire, with reports of a Gaza City hospital being targeted. Both parties indicated that the pause might be temporary, hinting at a potential resumption of hostilities.

The truce entails the delivery of additional aid to Gaza, with the initial release of hostages, including elderly women, scheduled for 4 pm local time. Over the course of the four-day truce, the total number of released hostages is expected to reach 50, according to Qatar’s foreign ministry spokesperson Majed Al-Ansari.

Egypt pledged to supply 130,000 litres of diesel and four trucks of gas daily to Gaza, along with 200 trucks of aid entering the region each day during the truce.

As part of the arrangement, Palestinians are anticipated to be released from Israeli jails, contributing to hopes that the temporary truce may pave the way for broader efforts towards a lasting peace. Hamas, on its Telegram channel, confirmed the cessation of hostilities, while also signaling the possibility of a “temporary truce” in a later video message from Abu Ubaida, the spokesperson for Hamas’ armed wing. In the message, he called for an “escalation of the confrontation” with Israel on various fronts, including the Israeli-occupied West Bank, where violence has surged in the wake of the Gaza conflict.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) stated that its troops would remain behind a ceasefire line inside Gaza, providing no detailed information on their position.

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