Israel and Hamas reach DEAL to pause fighting for four days & release 50 hostages 45 days on from terror massacre | The SunNovember 25, 2023
ISRAEL has approved a ceasefire deal with Hamas which would bring a four-day pause to fighting and 50 hostages freed.
The major breakthrough comes after weeks of negotiations between the US and Israel and Hamas mediator Qatar.
Under the deal, Hamas is to free 50 of the roughly 240 hostages it is holding in the Gaza Strip over a four-day period, the Israeli government said on Wednesday.
Around 12 are set to be released per day in phases – and all have Israeli citizenship.
It is understood Hamas has agreed to release women and children, but not female IDF soldiers they’ve captured.
The lull will be extended by an additional day for every 10 hostages released.
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In exchange, around 150 Palestinian women and children will be freed from Israeli prisons at a ratio of 3:1, Sky News understands.
Furthermore, humanitarian aid will be allowed to enter all areas of the Gaza strip.
Aerial surveillance by Israel will halt for four days in the south of the Gaza Strip and for six hours a day for four days in the north.
Ahead of Wednesday mornings Cabinet vote, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel would resume its offensive against Hamas after the cease-fire expires.
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It was not immediately clear when the truce would go into effect.
About 240 hostages – mostly Israeli civilians – have been held captive in Gaza since Hamas launched its brutal attacks on October 7 and slaughtered 1,200 men, women, and children.
Four hostages have already been released, one female soldier rescued, and the bodies of two others discovered by Israeli soldiers.
Netanyahu convened his Cabinet for the vote late on Tuesday.
The meeting stretched well into the early hours Wednesday, underscoring the sensitivity of a proposal that would suspend an Israeli offensive against Hamas before it has reached its goals.
Ahead of the vote, Netanyahu sought to assure the government ministers that the break was only tactical, vowing to resume the offensive after the truce expires.
Top security officials also attended the meeting.
Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh revealed on Tuesday morning that Israel was on the brink of striking a deal to pause fighting in Gaza and free hostages.
He told Reuters that Hamas officials were "close to reaching a truce agreement" with Israel and that the terror group had delivered its response to Qatari mediators.
Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: "We are making progress. I don't think it's worth saying too much, not at even this moment, but I hope there will be good news soon."
The PM's office added Netanyahu would convene his war cabinet from 4pm GMT "in light of developments in the matter of the release of our hostages", which would be followed by meetings of his wider security cabinet and the full cabinet.
A senior adviser to the PM, Mark Regev, told BBC Radio 4's the World at One programme on Tuesday afternoon: "If an arrangement is made for the release of our hostages… it requires a decision by the Israeli government and that I think can be done very quickly… I think we are talking about hours."
He said he hoped to see the release of Israeli people shortly "but I am still not 100 per cent sure".
Regev noted one element of the deal could take "a touch longer" if Israel was asked to release Palestinians legally held in its prisons for "killing people".
He explained: "There's been arrangement in the past whereby families of those people who were killed by these individuals can petition the Supreme Court and the Supreme Court does a hearing which would take a few hours as well."
The deal was supposed to see the release of about 50 civilian hostages by Hamas and Palestinian women and children freed from Israeli custody, according to Reuters.
Sources briefed on the talks said the deal would be for a multi-day pause in hostilities, with 10 hostages from Gaza and 30 Palestinians from Israel to be released each day.
Israel would be allowed to fly sorties over northern Gaza for 18 hours a day and between 100 and 300 trucks of food and medical aid, as well as fuel, would be permitted entry to Gaza.
Hamas official Issat el Reshiq told Al Jazeera TV negotiations were centred around how long the truce would last, how aid would be delivered to Gaza, and the details of the exchange of captives.
The deal comes 45 days after Hamas terrorists murdered 1,200 people and dragged 240 hostages – including at least 30 children, according to the Israeli Embassy – to Gaza on October 7.
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