Hamas To Release 50 Hostages In Gaza; Israel Agrees To 4-day Truce

In a major breakthrough in the nearly seven weeks old bloody conflict in the Middle East, Israel and Hamas have reached a deal that will allow the release of 50 hostages held in Gaza, and 150 Palestinian women and teenagers held in Israeli jails.

Both the parties have agreed to stop fighting for four days to implement the deal, brokered mainly by Qatar.

Israeli government has offered to add an extra day in truce if Hamas releases additional 10 hostages each day.

Israel Defense Forces have not yet finalized the exact timing for the pause of military operations in Gaza.

As the truce is expected to take effect in the next 24 hours, the Israeli forces continued attacks in the Gaza Strip.

The badly needed deal is the result of weeks of negotiations by the leaders and top diplomatic officials of the United States, Egypt, Qatar, Israel and China.

Israel’s cabinet approved the deal early Wednesday morning.

U.S. President Joe Biden thanked Qatar’s Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani and Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi for their critical leadership and partnership in reaching this deal. He appreciated the commitment that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his government have made in supporting an extended pause to ensure this deal can be fully carried out and to ensure the provision of additional humanitarian assistance to Palestinian families in Gaza.

Two American hostages were released in late October. “Today’s deal should bring home additional American hostages, and I will not stop until they are all released,” Biden said in a statement.

The 50 women and children whom Hamas agreed to release are among 239 hostages it abducted in a surprise attack carried out in Israeli cities on October 7. Around 1,200 people, mostly Israelis, were killed in the militant attack across the border, while around 12,700 people lost their lives in Gaza in retaliatory attacks by Israel Defense Forces.

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen called on Hamas to release all the remaining hostages.

Ursula said she has asked the European Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarcic to upscale further shipments to Gaza as quickly as possible to alleviate the humanitarian crisis in the enclave.

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