Israel-Hamas truce, hostage release to begin Friday, Qatar says

A four-day truce between Israel and the Palestinian armed group Hamas will begin on Friday morning, with civilian captives set to be released from Gaza later in the day, a spokesman for Qatar’s foreign ministry has said.
Speaking to reporters on Thursday, foreign ministry spokesman Majed Al-Ansari said that the temporary truce will begin at 7am (05:00 GMT) and that 13 captives held by Hamas will be released at 4pm (14:00 GMT), with increased humanitarian aid entering Gaza “as soon as possible”.
“Those hostages who are from the same families will be put together within the same patch,” he said.
“Every day will include a number of civilians as agreed to total 50 within the four days.”
Palestinians would be released from Israeli prisons as part of the deal, which also includes a cessation of hostilities across Gaza, he said.
The 13 captives scheduled to be released by Hamas are women and children, and Al-Ansari said that while he could not disclose the number of Palestinian prisoners will be released on Friday he said the deal was “reciprocal, so we’re expecting a release to happen also on the Israeli side”.
Al-Ansari also said the Red Cross was coordinating with all parties involved with the release of the captives held in Gaza.
“Our main objective here is the safety of the hostages,” he said.
The armed wing of Hamas confirmed in a statement on Telegram that the truce would start at 7am local time.
The truce would last for four days, during which all military actions by al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ armed wing, and Israeli forces would cease, the statement added.
The Israeli prime minister’s office also said Israel received an initial list of hostages to be released from Gaza.
“The relevant authorities are checking the details of the list and are presently in contact with all the families,” it said in a statement.
The temporary pause comes after several weeks of devastating fighting, after Hamas launched an attack on southern Israel on October 7 that authorities there say killed about 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and took more than 240 people hostage.
In Israel, families of those taken hostage have pleaded for the return of their loved ones. Numerous people from other countries were also taken captive in the assault.
Israel has responded to the attack with an overwhelming assault on the besieged Gaza Strip, cutting off access to food, electricity, and fuel for its more than 2.3 million residents and leveling entire neighbourhoods with airstrikes as ground forces skirmish with Palestinian fighters in northern Gaza.
Palestinian authorities say that at least 14,532 people have been killed in the Israeli assault, including 6,000 children, and humanitarian conditions have sharply deteriorated under constant siege and bombardment. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have also been displaced, with few options for seeking refuge in the tightly-packed strip.
While humanitarian organisations have stressed that only a permanent ceasefire can address the scale of civilian suffering in Gaza, many Palestinians, exhausted after weeks of endless bombing, have welcomed the pause as a much-needed respite.
Speaking with Al Jazeera after the truce was first announced on Wednesday, Gaza resident Khaled Loz said that he plans to use the truce to catch up on sleep.
“It’s the first thing I want to do,” he said. “I’m tired of all the continuous bombing.”
Source: Al Jazeera