Check Out: Israel And Hamas Reach Deal For Hostage Release And Lull In Offensive
In a widely welcomed move, Israel and Hamas have agreed a deal for the release of 50 women and children held hostage in Gaza in return for 150 Palestinian women and children to be freed from Israeli prisons during a four-day ceasefire.
A senior US official has confirmed the deal, noting the first hostage release is expected on Thursday, and the number could rise. The freed hostages would include three Americans as well, one of them a three-year-old girl, the official said.
Deal Would Still Leave Some 190 Hostages
Hamas said expanded humanitarian deliveries were part of the deal, as well as a halt to Israeli air sorties over southern Gaza during the ceasefire, with sorties over the north restricted to six hours a day. Israel has agreed not to arrest anyone for the duration of the truce, it added.
A statement from the Israeli Prime Minister’s office said the “lull” in Israeli military operations would be extended for an additional day for every 10 more hostages freed. Hamas’ October 7 assault claimed at least 1,200 lives in Israel, with more than 240 people taken hostage.
Israeli retaliatory strikes have killed at least 14,000 people in the Palestinian enclave, according to the Hamas-run health ministry. Israel has vowed to return home all of the hostages, complete the elimination of Hamas and ensure there will be no new threat from Gaza.
If implemented, the deal would still leave some 190 hostages in Gaza. Nonetheless, not all of the hostages are being held by Hamas, with some in the hands of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a separate extremist faction, and criminals in the territory, according to Israeli and other officials.
Deal A Personal Victory For Yahya Sinwar
Hamas released two Americans and two Israelis in mid-October. Israeli officials have suggested that the hostages set to be released in the coming days will be selected from those held by Hamas, which will then try to locate others held by different groups or factions.
The deal is a personal victory for Yahya Sinwar, who spent 23 years in Israeli jails before being released in an exchange in 2011. Israeli officials have described the 61-year-old as the architect of the October 7 attack. But the whereabouts of the Hamas leader in Gaza remain unknown.