According to the Israeli authorities this delay is due to the fact that the terrorist group has not yet handed over the list of people it will release. The ceasefire is also postponed and the IDF continues its ground and air operations in Gaza

Truce between Israel and Hamas delayed

PHOTO/ARCHIVO - Presidente de Gobierno de Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu
PHOTO/FILE - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

The 50 Israelis kidnapped by Hamas and other terrorist organisations who were due to return home today will have to remain in the Gaza Strip for an extra day. This was confirmed by Israeli National Security Advisor Tzachi Hanegbi, who announced that Hamas will not proceed with the release of the hostages until Friday.

"Negotiations for the release of our hostages are continuing. The release will begin according to the original agreement between the parties, not before Friday," Hanegbi said in a statement.

The delay is due, according to Israeli media reports based on senior Israeli officials, to the fact that the terrorist group has not yet handed over the list of those it will release and has not signed the agreement. 

"There is currently no ceasefire. Abu Marzouk (senior Hamas official) was the one who estimated that it would start on Thursday. But the list of hostages was not handed over and the agreement was not signed," Ynet reports quoting a senior Israeli official, who also estimates that the release of the first hostages will begin around 7am on Friday.

However, an exact time has not yet been confirmed, although Qatar - a key player in the deal and the talks - says it will be announced soon. Moreover, according to Qatari foreign ministry spokesman Majed al-Ansari, hostage negotiations between Israel and Hamas are "progressing positively".

Al-Ansari says Qatar is working with the two sides, along with the US, "to ensure the rapid start of the truce and to provide what is necessary to ensure the commitment of the parties to the agreement".  

estados unidos-qatar-politica
PHOTO/FILE - Qatar is working with the two sides, along with the US, "to ensure the rapid start of the truce and to provide what is necessary to ensure the commitment of the parties to the agreement".

The delay is a blow to the families of the abductees, who have been held for nearly 50 days by Hamas and other organisations such as Palestinian Islamic Jihad. However, despite the delay, the Israeli military and health authorities are already prepared to receive the first hostages, who will be minors and women.

The country's hospitals have already designed a "meticulous" plan for the care of the hostages and their families, focusing on medical examinations and mental health. Regarding the military personnel who will receive the children, i24 News reports that soldiers are trained to treat them "with extreme sensitivity".

"If the child asks about the family, the soldiers are asked not to reveal any information," the Israeli media outlet adds. Many of the children abducted on 7 October are unaware that their parents were killed by Hamas during the attack.  

The agreement between Israel and Hamas  

The agreement between Israel and the terrorist group consists of the exchange of 50 live Israeli hostages (children, their mothers and other women in groups of 12 to 13 people) for a four-day pause in the fighting in Gaza and the release of up to 150 Palestinian women prisoners and minors in Israeli jails.

Women to be released after the deal include 25-year-old Misoun Mussa, arrested after stabbing a 19-year-old Israeli soldier in the neck; Fatma Shahin, imprisoned for stabbing an Israeli man at a checkpoint; or Asra Jaabis, who in 2016 injured an Israeli soldier after blowing up a petrol tank.  

Regarding the hostages released by Hamas, the Israeli authorities have stated that they will not inform the families before the hostages are released, but only after they have been definitively identified in the country in order not to give false hope.

The agreement also provides for more fuel and humanitarian assistance to enter Gaza during the truce, the first since the war began. In a recent press conference, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stressed that the agreement also allows the International Red Cross to visit all hostages not included in the agreement and provide them with necessary medicines. 

Hamas has not allowed the Red Cross to visit the hostages all these weeks, despite the fact that many of the hostages are minors, elderly or have health problems and need medication. 

Israel warns again as Hezbollah launches one of its biggest attacks since the war began 

Netanyahu also stressed that the agreement does not mean the end of the war. "Gaza will no longer pose a threat to Israel. We will restore security in both the south and the north," he told a joint press conference with Defence Minister Yoav Gallant and Minister Benny Gantz, who took the opportunity to issue another warning to Hezbollah after weeks of clashes on the northern border.

"What is happening now in northern Gaza could also happen in southern Lebanon; what happened in Gaza could happen to Beirut," Gantz said. "We are aware of Iran's attempts to challenge us: no attack on Israel's border will go unanswered," he added.  

This morning, hours after the press conference, Hezbollah launched one of the biggest attacks on northern Israel since the start of the war. According to the Iranian-backed Shi'ite group, 48 rockets were fired at a military base, although the Israel Defence Forces cite some 35, several of which were intercepted by air defence systems.  

This attack coincides with a meeting between Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah somewhere in Lebanon. Also in the last few hours, the son of a Hezbollah parliamentarian, Mohammed Raad, was killed in an attack in southern Lebanon along with other fighters of the Shiite group.  

IDF continues to uncover Hamas tunnels under and around al-Shifa 

Since the release of the first hostages has been delayed, the ceasefire, which will not begin until Friday, is also postponed. As a result, the IDF is continuing its operations in Gaza, both on the ground and in the air.

In the last 24 hours, the Israeli Air Force struck 300 Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip, including operational headquarters, underground battle tunnels, warehouses and production sites for explosive devices and anti-tank launch sites.  

In addition, ground forces have attacked targets in the Jabalia area and eliminated several terrorist cells in northern Gaza, where troops located a tunnel inside a mosque. Tunnels have also been found in residential areas, in the vicinity of Al-Shifa hospital and under the medical centre itself.

"The findings show unequivocally Hamas's deliberate method of operating underneath hospitals. The terrorist organisation also makes use of hospital buildings, using them to store weapons and as terrorist headquarters," says the Israeli army, which claims that Hamas headquarters are located underneath Al-Shifa. 

According to Kan, Dr Mohammad Abu Salmiya, the director of the health centre, is being interrogated by Israel's Shin Bet intelligence agency and IDF intelligence after he was arrested while trying to flee south of the Strip.

Inside the deep tunnels under Al-Shifa, with air conditioning and toilets, evidence has been found showing that some of the Kibbutz Be'eri abductees were held there. 

In this regard, it is worth noting that last week Israeli troops found the body of Yehudit Weiss, a woman from Be'eri, at the entrance of a tunnel near the hospital.