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Hamas and Israel Reach Agreement to Free Hostages in Gaza on Friday After Temporary Cease-Fire

An agreement has been reached between Hamas and Israel to cease fighting in Gaza for four days, starting at 7 a.m. local time on Friday. The deal, brokered in Qatar, will lead to the release of at least 50 Israeli hostages held by Hamas since the terror group’s Oct. 7 attack on southern Israel.

The announcement was made by a spokesman for Qatar’s foreign ministry, Majed al-Ansari, during a news conference on Thursday. Al-Ansari stated that 13 hostages would be released at about 4 p.m. local time on Friday. At the end of the four-day cessation, at least 50 women and children will be released from Gaza.

Officials in Qatar did not specify the number of Palestinians to be exchanged for the Israeli hostages, but the initial plan called for three Palestinians to be released for every Israeli citizen.

Israeli officials confirmed receiving a list of hostages abducted by Hamas militants who could be exchanged for Palestinian prisoners. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated that the responsible officials are in contact with the families of the hostages and are verifying the details of the list.

Family members of the Israeli hostages expressed that they have yet to receive any details from the government about their loved ones held in captivity inside the Palestinian enclave. An Israeli government official indicated that the families would be informed and reunited with their loved ones once they are in Israeli hands and brought to a designated meeting point at a hospital.

Addressing the media, Mr. Netanyahu emphasized that the temporary cease-fire is just a stage in their campaign to eradicate Hamas and ensure that the Gaza Strip no longer poses a threat to Israel. He asserted that the war against Hamas will continue until all its goals are achieved.

If the agreement holds and the hostages are released, it would mark a significant diplomatic breakthrough since the onset of the conflict last month. The pause in fighting could be extended if the Palestinians are able to locate additional Israeli children and civilian women inside Gaza.

It was reported that Hamas aimed to extend the duration of the pause in fighting beyond four days, with humanitarian aid and fuel not being their primary concerns in the negotiations.

During the temporary halt in fighting, more humanitarian aid will be allowed to flow into Gaza through the Egyptian and Israeli border crossing points. However, the specifics of the amount of supplies to be permitted were not specified in the agreement.

The Israeli Air Force will observe a pause in flights over southern Gaza and limit flights over the northern end of the enclave to six hours daily during the cessation of hostilities.

Israel initially responded to the Hamas attack on Oct. 7 with airstrikes and a ground invasion of the Gaza Strip, resulting in casualties. The details of the casualties provided by the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry did not distinguish between civilians and combatants.

Meanwhile, Israel continues to engage in a battle for public opinion regarding their cause as international legal officials, including Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares, examine evidence of the atrocities committed by Hamas. Mr. Miyares emphasized the commitment to fight the organization and its members, wherever they may be.

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