The agreement, brokered by Qatari and US mediation, provides for the release of 10 more hostages for each additional day of truce

Israel and Hamas agree to four-day truce and release of 50 hostages

El primer ministro israelí, Benjamin Netanyahu - PHOTO/FILE
photo_camera PHOTO/FILE - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Israel and Hamas have reached an agreement on a four-day truce and the return of 50 hostages to Israeli territory. More than a month and a half after the Hamas terrorist attack, the deal has been finalised and is expected to be the first step in bringing back the more than 200 hostages still held by the terrorists. It also includes the release of 150 Palestinians imprisoned in Israel and the entry of humanitarian aid into Gaza, which had suffered a significant drop in recent days.

The agreement reached includes the following points:

  • Release of 50 hostages held by Hamas.
  • Release of 150 Palestinian women and children in Israeli prisons under the age of 19.
  • Hundreds of trucks of humanitarian aid, relief and fuel throughout the Gaza Strip, north and south.
  • Halt Israeli military actions in the Gaza Strip.
  • Halt air traffic in southern Gaza during the days of the armistice and also in the northern Gaza Strip for 6 hours per day from 10am to 4pm.
Fuerzas de Defensa de Israel vía REUTERS - Soldados israelíes toman posiciones durante la operación terrestre en curso del ejército israelí contra el grupo islamista palestino Hamas, en un lugar designado como Gaza, en esta imagen fija del video publicado el 15 de noviembre de 2023
Israel Defense Forces via REUTERS - Israeli soldiers take up positions during the Israeli army's ongoing ground operation against the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, at a designated Gaza site, in this still image from video released November 15, 2023.

Through this agreement, Israel pledges not to attack or arrest anyone at any location in Gaza for the next four days, according to the Hamas statement. For its part, the Israeli government says it is "committed to returning all hostages to their homes", adding that this is only the "first step towards achieving this goal". A first step that will allow the return of 50 women and children, according to a statement from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office.

Joe Biden has also expressed his satisfaction with the agreement that his country has mediated together with Qatar. However, the US president said he had no intention of ceasing his efforts to bring all his nationals back: "Today's agreement should bring home more American hostages, and I will not stop until they are all released," the president's statement said.

REUTERS/MIRIAM AISTER - El presidente estadounidense Joe Biden, izquierda, durante una reunión con el primer ministro israelí, Benjamin Netanyahu, derecha, para discutir la guerra entre Israel y Hamas, en Tel Aviv, Israel, el miércoles 18 de octubre de 2023
REUTERS/MIRIAM AISTER - U.S. President Joe Biden, left, during a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, to discuss the war between Israel and Hamas, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2023

The West Bank praises the efforts of regional powers to mediate negotiations, but calls for going a step further. The Abbas administration calls for a political solution to the conflict, based on "international legitimacy". For the moment, this is a distant option that does not seem to be on the table, at least at this stage of the conflict. Netanyahu himself makes this clear, assuring that his country's mission, to destroy Hamas completely, has not changed.

"We are at war and we will continue the war until we achieve all our goals. Destroy Hamas, return all our hostages and ensure that no entity in Gaza can threaten Israel," the president said at the start of his latest government meeting. This is in line with Hamas' position, which, despite the truce, says it is "keeping its finger on the trigger", and is ready to continue "defending its people and defeating the occupation".

TWITTER/@FDIonline - Fuerzas de Defensa de Israel
TWITTER/@FDIonline - Israel Defence Forces

As for the hostages, they are expected to begin to be released today. Among them are expected to be three Americans, including a three-year-old girl whose parents were killed in the 7 October attack, according to a senior US official. To facilitate the release of the hostages, the Red Cross will work inside Gaza, said Qatar's chief negotiator in the ceasefire talks, Foreign Ministry Minister of State Mohammed Al-Khulaifi.

He also hopes that this agreement "will be the seed of a broader agreement and a permanent ceasefire". It should be recalled that in almost 46 days, Hamas had only agreed to release four hostages, citing "humanitarian reasons". In this regard, the Al Quds militias informed via their Telegram channel of the death of one of the hostages captured in the terrorist attack: "We previously expressed our willingness to release her for humanitarian reasons, but the enemy was delaying and this caused her death".

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