Israel, Hamas strike a deal on hostages

Jerusalem: Qatar on Wednesday announced a truce-for-hostages deal between Israel and Hamas that would bring a four-day halt in fighting in a devastating six-week war, win freedom for dozens of hostages held in the Gaza Strip, and also lead to the release of dozens of Palestinian prisoners.

Qatar’s Foreign Ministry said it would announce within a day when the clock will start ticking on the truce, during which 50 hostages will be released in stages in exchange for what Hamas said would be 150 Palestinians prisoners held by Israel. Those freed by both sides will be women and children.

Humanitarian aid to besieged Gaza would also increase.

The announcement came hours after Israel’s Cabinet approved the deal. It capped weeks of indirect Qatari-led negotiations between Israel and Hamas, an Islamic militant group that has ruled Gaza for 16 years. The United States and Egypt were also involved in stop-and-go talks to free some of the roughly 240 hostages held by Hamas and other militants in Gaza.

Hostage releases will begin roughly 24 hours after the deal is approved by all parties, said a senior White House official who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive matters.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office made no mention of the release of Palestinian prisoners or increased humanitarian aid when it confirmed the Cabinet had approved the deal.

“The government of Israel is committed to bringing all of the hostages home. Tonight, the government approved the outline for the first stage of achieving this goal,” the office said in a statement. Ahead of the Cabinet vote, which came after a six-hour meeting stretching into the early morning, Netanyahu said the war against Hamas would resume after the truce expires.

“We are at war, and we will continue the war,” he said. “We will continue until we achieve all our goals.”

In welcoming the deal, President Joe Biden emphasized that Netanyahu has committed to supporting an “extended pause” to make sure not only all hostages are released but that humanitarian assistance can be sent to Palestinians in Gaza.

India for ‘timely and sustained’ aid for Gaza

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has called on the international community to provide “timely and sustained humanitarian assistance” to the Palestinians in Gaza.

PM Modi was speaking at a virtual meeting of the Group of 20 nations on Wednesday before India’s presidency ends on Nov. 30.

“We agree that terrorism is unacceptable to all of us. The death of civilians anywhere is condemnable,” PM Modi said. “We welcome the news today concerning the release of the hostages. We hope that all the hostages will be released soon.”

Israel and Hamas agreed to a four-day cease-fire in the war in Gaza — a breakthrough that will facilitate the release of dozens of hostages held by militants as well as Palestinians imprisoned by Israel and bring a large influx of aid to the besieged territory, officials said Wednesday.

“It is important to provide timely and sustained humanitarian assistance. It is also important to ensure that the war between Israel and Hamas does not take any regional form,” PM Modi said.

Image courtesy of (CBS News)

Share this post