Israel agrees to hostage release deal

Ceasefire lasting several days
Israel agrees to hostage release deal

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At least 50 women and children who were kidnapped in the Gaza Strip are to be released in the next few days. Israel’s cabinet approves deal with Hamas. In return, Israel is ready for a ceasefire lasting several days. Palestinian prisoners should also be released.

The Israeli government has agreed to a deal that will see the release of dozens of hostages kidnapped in the Gaza Strip. In return, 150 Palestinian prisoners will be released and a ceasefire will prevail, the official statement said. A majority of the cabinet voted in favor of a corresponding agreement with the Islamist Hamas, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office announced last night. Both sides are concerned about the release of women and minors.

“The government has approved the outlines of the first phase of an agreement that provides for the release of at least 50 abductees – women and children – over four days during which fighting will cease,” the statement said. At the same time, the government announced that the Israeli army would resume hostilities in the Gaza Strip after the agreed ceasefire expired. “The Israeli government, the Israeli army and the security forces will continue the war to return all abductees, wipe out Hamas and ensure that there is no further threat to the State of Israel from the Gaza Strip,” the statement said.

Israeli newspaper Haaretz reports, citing a senior Israeli official, that the plan calls for Hamas to release 30 kidnapped children, eight mothers and 12 other women during a five-day ceasefire. According to the official, all branches of the Israeli security services – the IDF, the Shin Bet and the Mossad – support the proposed agreement.

According to the Times of Israel, the hostages will return to the city or town where they lived before their detention, including in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The television station Channel 12 reported that Israeli hospitals had been prepared for the arrival of the abductees, and that special shielded areas had been set up for them in six clinics. The released people are to be taken from the Gaza Strip via the Rafah border crossing to Egypt and from there to Israel by helicopter.

Hamas’ confirmation came shortly after the end of the Israeli Cabinet meeting. After difficult negotiations mediated by Qatar and Egypt, an agreement was reached, the ruling organization in the Gaza Strip announced on Telegram. According to media reports, the agreement also calls for additional aid supplies, including fuel, to be brought to the Gaza Strip. According to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Red Cross should also have access to the remaining hostages.

The first hostages could be released on Thursday

According to a government spokesman, relatives of terror victims can appeal to the Supreme Court against the release of prisoners within 24 hours. Accordingly, the agreement would take effect on Thursday at the earliest. It is unlikely that the Supreme Court will take action against the government’s decision. According to media reports, no prisoners convicted of murder should be released. Parliament does not have to approve the agreement. In Israel it is expected that the gradual release of the 50 hostages could begin on Thursday. On each day of the break in fighting, between 10 and 13 hostages should be released. The military’s air surveillance over the Gaza Strip is also to be stopped for six hours a day.

The agreement should also provide for a possible extension of the ceasefire. Hamas would then have to release ten more hostages each day. Israel assumes that a total of 80 hostages could be released. However, Prime Minister Netanyahu emphasized that the war would continue even after the implementation of the agreement “until we have achieved all of our goals.” Netanyahu had asked his cabinet to approve the plan. It was “a difficult decision, but the right decision,” he said at the cabinet meeting at which the agreement was to be decided. US President Joe Biden helped improve the “framework” of the deal to include the release of “more hostages at a lower price,” Netanyahu said. Relatives of hostages had demanded that Israel insist on the release of all abductees.

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