Israel approves 4-day ceasefire deal with Hamas, 50 hostages to be released
Israel and Hamas agreed to a four-day truce that would see the Palestinian group release dozens of hostages taken on October 7, both sides announced Wednesday. A government spokesman said that under the agreement at least 50 Israeli and foreign hostages would be released.
Israel's cabinet voted early on Wednesday to approve an agreement to secure the release of around 50 hostages who were abducted and taken into Gaza by Hamas when it attacked the Jewish nation on October 7. The Times of Israel stated that a multi-day truce was agreed with in exchange for the captives' release. After persistent pressure from the international community, Israel ultimately conceded to a four-day truce, marking the first time since the start of the conflict against Hamas.
Following Hamas and Israel's announcement on Tuesday that they were "close" to reaching an agreement, rumours of a deal to secure the captives in exchange for a truce began to circulate. One of the main players in mediating the hostages' settlement was Qatar.
The agreement's specifics weren't immediately disclosed to the public. But an Israeli government official told reporters on Tuesday that the agreement could help to secure the release of 50 Israelis, mostly women and children, in groups of 12-13 people per day.
Under the terms of the agreement, Israel will permit the release of Palestinian women and children who are incarcerated and enable them to return to their homes, which are primarily in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Although Israel has not disclosed the exact number, local media sources place it at 150.
Israel also made the momentous decision to allow a lot more fuel and humanitarian goods to enter Gaza. Fearing that it might help Hamas, Israel has stopped gasoline and humanitarian supplies from reaching Gaza, despite the beleaguered Palestinian territory experiencing an unparalleled humanitarian catastrophe.
Here's how hostage transfer will take place?
First, Hamas will transfer the hostages to the Red Cross, following which they will be handed over to the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) troops. Following that, the hostages will get a preliminary medical examination before being brought to one of five remote medical facilities located around Israel to have a meeting with their relatives. Medical and defence personnel will evaluate if some of the captives may be questioned after meeting with their relatives. Finally, before being freed, the captives are briefed by security personnel.
Since Israel began a ground counteroffensive against Hamas in Gaza, more than 13,000 Palestinians have died there. The unexpected attack on Israel by Hamas, which resulted in the deaths of almost 1,200 people, prompted the ground invasion.