Gaza: A cease-fire agreement between the Hamas group and Israel has been confirmed by both parties, along with Washington and Qatar, which helped broker the deal that would bring a temporary halt to the devastating war that is now in its seventh week.
The Israeli government said that under an outline of the deal, Hamas is to free over a four-day period at least 50 of the roughly 240 hostages taken in its October 7 attack on Israel, and Israel is to release some Palestinian prisoners in exchange. Egyptian state media say the truce will begin Thursday morning.
Hamas told Egyptian media that the four-day pause would commence Thursday morning at 10 a.m. local time.
Egypt helped mediate the cease-fire agreement, which would bring the first respite to Palestinians in Gaza, according to health authorities.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said before the Cabinet voted early Wednesday to back the agreement that the war would continue even if a deal was reached.
The government has published a list of 300 Palestinian detainees who could be freed as part of a prisoner exchange with Hamas, following the announcement of the ceasefire in Gaza.
Aid trucks at Gaza border
International aid groups that have lined up thousands of aid trucks for Gaza say they’re ready to move quickly to send in food, water and other supplies if a pause in fighting between Hamas and Israel takes hold as hoped on Thursday.
The aid groups say a key ambition will be to get help to northern Gaza, which has been largely inaccessible to humanitarian shipments and where nearly all hospitals have stopped working amid a military campaign by Israeli forces.
“The entire humanitarian sector is ready to scale up once everything is set,” said Tommaso Della Longa, a spokesman for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, referring to the fine print of the announced deal.
Della Longa lamented “bottlenecks” that have confounded the deliveries of some humanitarian aid – though not nearly enough – into Gaza. He said IFRC hopes that a deal would include provisions to allow for a “faster track” of aid shipments.