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Gaza War: What do we know about the truce agreement between Hamas and Israel? – . .

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Demonstrators from the families of kidnapped Israelis

  • Author, Yolande Niel and David Gretten
  • Role, . in Jerusalem and London

Israel and Hamas have reached an agreement to exchange 50 hostages held in Gaza in exchange for a four-day cessation of fighting.

The agreement also includes the release of 150 Palestinian women and children detained in Israeli prisons, in addition to allowing increased humanitarian aid to Gaza.

The BBC learned that the cessation of fighting will take effect at 10:00 am (8:00 GMT) on Thursday.

US President Joe Biden said that the agreement would end the “harsh ordeal” of the hostages and “alleviate the suffering of innocent Palestinian families.”

The Israeli government vowed to complete its war to eliminate Hamas and return the rest of the more than 200 hostages who were kidnapped during Hamas’ cross-border attack on southern Israel on October 7, which led to the killing of 1,200 people, according to the Israeli government.

Hamas, which is classified as a terrorist organization by Israel, the United States and other Western powers, said the agreement would give the Palestinians time to recover after an intense Israeli air and ground offensive that the government in Gaza said killed more than 14,000 people.

Which hostages will be released?

After talks continued until the early hours of Wednesday morning, the Israeli coalition government finally signed this agreement.

A statement issued by the office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that 50 women and children will be released over a period of four days, during which time “the fighting will stop.”

The statement also offered Hamas an incentive to release more hostages, saying: “The release of every 10 additional hostages will lead to an additional day of ceasefire.”

This clause is considered important for the families of the hostages, some of whom previously told the BBC that they did not want to see a partial agreement.

Ruined buildings

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The agreement will allow the movement of the people of the Gaza Strip in one direction, from north to south

It is expected that 50 hostages will be released in four batches, each batch consisting of 12 hostages who are Israeli citizens or have dual citizenship.

No list of hostages to be released has been published, but a senior US official told reporters that at least three US citizens – including three-year-old Abigail Idan, whose parents were killed in Kibbutz Kfar Azza – will be among the hostages to be released.

A senior Israeli official said Tuesday afternoon that Hamas could also unilaterally release the 26 Thai citizens believed to be among the hostages.

The International Committee of the Red Cross said it was ready to facilitate the release of the hostages, as its staff did when Hamas released two Israeli-American women and two Israeli women last month.

Earlier, Israeli forces in Gaza announced that they rescued one female soldier and recovered the bodies of two other hostages, a female soldier and a civilian woman.

The Israeli government said that it “will continue the war in order to return all hostages to their homes, complete the elimination of Hamas and ensure that there is no new threat to the State of Israel from Gaza.”

What will happen in Gaza during the ceasefire?

In a longer statement, Hamas provided more details on whether Israeli military action was expected to cease for the duration of what it called a “truce” or temporary truce.

It said that all Israeli drone and aircraft activities are expected to stop for four days in southern Gaza.

But in the north, which was the main target of the Israeli operations to dismantle Hamas, the situation will continue as it is during specific hours, between 10:00 and 16:00 local time (08:00-14:00 GMT) every day.

Israeli troops and tanks are expected to remain in their positions inside Gaza during the four-day cessation of fighting, but a Hamas statement said Israeli forces would not attack or arrest anyone.

For Palestinians in Gaza, 1.7 million of whom have fled their homes because of the war according to the United Nations, a respite from the brutal fighting cannot come soon.

Family of a Palestinian prisoner in the West Bank

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The family of a Palestinian prisoner in the West Bank follows the news at their home in Hebron

The agreement will allow 200 trucks carrying aid, four fuel tankers, and four trucks carrying gas to enter Gaza through the Egyptian Rafah crossing on each of the four days.

But what can be understood is that the increase in fuel, which the sector needs to operate hospital generators, water desalination, and sanitation facilities, will only continue for the period of the cessation of fighting.

Israel cut off electricity and most water, and halted shipments of food, fuel and other goods to Gaza in response to the Hamas attack.

It allowed only 1,399 shipments of humanitarian supplies to enter through Egypt last month, compared to a monthly average of 10,000 shipments before the war, according to the United Nations. Israel blocked all fuel shipments until last week, saying Hamas might use it for military purposes.

Although the deal will allow people in Gaza safe passage from north to south, it will not allow hundreds of thousands of people displaced from the north to return to their homes.

Who are the Palestinian prisoners?

Hamas said the agreement would also see the release of 150 Palestinian prisoners held by Israel, all of them women and children.

The Israeli government statement did not mention this, but the Israeli Ministry of Justice published on Wednesday morning a list in Hebrew of the names of 300 prisoners eligible for release as part of the deal, based on the possibility of Hamas agreeing to release 50 more hostages.

The list includes 123 boys aged between 14 and 17 years, a 15-year-old girl, 144 young men aged 18, and 32 women aged between 18 and 59 years. Most of them are in pretrial detention awaiting trial on charges ranging from stone-throwing to attempted murder.

Publishing the list is a legal formality in Israel. Before any prisoner is released, Israeli citizens must be allowed to file an appeal before the Israeli Supreme Court for 24 hours.

No serious incident is expected, but this is why there is a delay in the entry into force of the deal.

Israel currently detains about 7,000 Palestinians accused or convicted of security crimes, according to Israeli and Palestinian human rights groups. It is reported that about 3,000 Palestinians have been arrested in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, where violence has also escalated, since October 7.

The Hamas statement concluded by saying that the agreement aims to “serve our people and strengthen their steadfastness in the face of aggression.”

He warned: “Our fingers are still on the trigger, and our victorious fighters will remain vigilant to defend our people and defeat the occupation.”

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