A temporary ceasefire in Gaza has been announced, along with the release of hostages taken by Hamas, according to Qatari officials. This truce will mark the first pause in fighting since Hamas attacked southern Israel on October 7.
Qatari officials have stated that the four-day ceasefire will commence on Friday at 7 a.m. local time. As part of the agreement, 13 of the 50 hostages that Hamas agreed to return will be released on Friday at 4 p.m. local time. The spokesperson for the Qatari foreign ministry, Majed Al Ansari, has confirmed that among those being released are elderly women and children.
Since the October 7 attack, approximately 240 Israeli and foreign nationals have been held hostage by Hamas, according to the Israeli Army. Tragically, at least two hostages have been found dead during this time. The Israeli Defense Forces have reported the deaths of 19-year-old Israeli soldier Noa Marciano and 65-year-old Yehudit Weiss. However, Hamas has also released four hostages.
The recent agreement was brokered by Qatar, who facilitated negotiations between Israel and Hamas. In exchange for the release of the hostages, the Israelis will release 150 Palestinian women and children currently held in Israeli prisons. Additionally, hundreds of trucks carrying aid will be allowed into the area, as stated in Hamas' statement. The Israeli government has also indicated that for every ten additional hostages released by Hamas, the ceasefire will be extended by one day.
This hostage deal is significant as it brings some respite to the ongoing violence in the region and offers hope for a potential de-escalation of tensions. However, it is important to note that many hostages still remain in Gaza, highlighting the continued challenges in achieving a lasting peace.