An agreement was announced on Wednesday about the release of hostages held in Gaza Strip in exchange for Palestinian prisoners, as part of a truce in the war between Israel and Hamas, but it will not take effect until Friday.
Some 240 people were kidnapped and taken to the Gaza Strip in the unprecedented Hamas attack on Israel on Oct. 7, which sparked off the war.
Here are the main points of the agreement, brokered by Qatar, Egypt and the United States.
Start and duration of the truce
Qatar said at 3:30 p.m. (GMT) on Wednesday that a “humanitarian pause” would be announced “within the next 24 hours” and would last “four days, with the possibility of extension.” The agreement provides for the release of 50 Israeli hostages in exchange for 150 Palestinian prisoners.
Initially, several media outlets reported that the truce was due to come into effect at 10 a.m. local time (8 a.m. GMT) on Thursday. But the head of Israel's National Security Council, Tzachi Hanegbi, said that the hostages would not be released “until Friday” and that negotiations were continuing.
A Palestinian official who requested anonymity told AFP on Thursday morning that “last-minute” discussions had postponed implementing the agreement. “Qatar, in coordination with the Egyptians and the Americans, is expected to announce in the coming hours today the time at which the truce will begin,” he added.
According to the Palestinian official, “Hamas will release 10 women and children hostages — under the age of 19 — and at the same time, 30 Palestinian prisoners will be freed, and the agreement will continue this way.”
The “last-minute” discussions are about the “names of the Israeli hostages and the modalities for their handover” to a third party, said this source close to the negotiations.
Initially, it was proposed “that they be handed over via the Red Cross to take them to Egypt,” which borders the Gaza Strip, before being handed over “to the Israeli side,” the official explained.
“It was then proposed that a medical visit should first be made by Red Cross officials to check on the hostages' state of health,” followed by a visit by Red Cross officials to the other civilian hostages “to check on their state of health,” he added.
Throughout the truce, Israel must ensure freedom of movement for people, particularly along the Salaheddine road, which crosses the territory from north to south, Hamas demanded. The agreement also calls for Israeli aircraft to stop flying over the south of the Gaza Strip for four days, and over the north for six hours each day.
Under the terms of the agreement, “50 women and children under the age of 19” held hostage in the Gaza Strip will be freed in exchange for Palestinians, Hamas said.
According to Qatari spokesman Majed Al-Ansari, the agreement does not include the release of military personnel.
According to Hamas, 150 Palestinian prisoners, women and young people under 19, will be released.
Israel has circulated a list of 300 prisoners: 33 women, 123 teenagers under the age of 18 and 144 young people aged around 18, likely to be released in phases. These prisoners include 49 members of Hamas, 28 of Islamic Jihad, 60 of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah movement and 17 of the nationalist Marxist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).
According to Qatar, the truce should also allow the entry of “more humanitarian convoys and emergency aid, including fuel,” as Gaza faces a total siege imposed by Israel.
“At least 200 to 300 trucks will enter, including eight fuel and gas trucks,” according to Taher al-Nounou.
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