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Israel’s hostage deal with Hamas: What we know so far

The Israeli government has agreed to a deal that will secure the release of 50 hostages abducted by Hamas during the group’s October 7 attack, according to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In exchange, Israeli forces will briefly pause operations to allow aid into the besieged Gaza enclave.

What has Israel said about the deal?

Israel’s cabinet voted in favor of the agreement early on Wednesday morning, with Netanyahu outlining the basic details of the “first stage” of the deal in a brief statement.

  • “At least 50 hostages – women and children – will be released over four days, during which a pause in the fighting will be held,” the PM said, adding that for every additional ten hostages freed, Israel would pause operations for one more day.
    However, Netanyahu stressed that his country would “continue the war in order to return home all of the hostages, complete the elimination of Hamas and ensure that there will be no new threat to the State of Israel from Gaza.”

All of Israel’s security agencies – the IDF, Shin Bet and Mossad – reportedly voiced support for the arrangement.

Hamas’ response?

The leadership of the Palestinian militant group issued a statement on its official Telegram channel announcing what it dubbed a “cease-fire from both parties.” It added that Israel had agreed to suspend military flights over southern Gaza for the duration of the pause, and limit air operations in the northern portion of the enclave. The cessation of hostilities would allow humanitarian aid to reach all parts of Gaza, it said.

The group also claimed that 150 Palestinian women and children currently held in Israeli custody would be freed as part of the deal, although the Israeli side did not confirm a specific number.

  • “The provisions of this agreement were formulated according to the vision of the resistance and its determinants that aim to serve our people and enhance their steadfastness in the face of aggression,” the Hamas statement said.

International reactions

Washington, which was involved in the negotiations, was quick to issue a statement hailing the hostage deal, with US President Joe Biden saying he was “extraordinarily gratified” that captives would be reunited with their families. He went on to thank the leaders of Qatar and Egypt, who also mediated the dialogue between Israel and Hamas.

In its own statement, Qatar confirmed that the deal would include freeing Palestinian women and children from Israeli prisons, adding that “the number of those released will be increased in later stages of implementing the agreement.” It said the pause to fighting “will be announced within the next 24 hours.”

  • Moscow hailed Qatar’s efforts in brokering the deal and welcomed the agreement itself. Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova stressed that the truce “is something that Russia was calling for since the start of the conflict.”

What’s next?

According to Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Spokesperson Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, Israel will soon issue a list of Palestinian prisoners to be released.

  • The Prime Minister’s Office has also reportedly developed a process for captives freed by Hamas, who will be received by the Red Cross before being transferred to the IDF. Freed hostages will undergo medical checks, and will be debriefed by Israeli authorities before their release, Israeli media reports said.

Source: RT