In a significant development amid the six-week-long conflict between Israel and Hamas, a ceasefire agreement has been approved by the Israeli government.
The deal, brokered by Qatari officials with assistance from U.S. President Joe Biden, involves the release of 50 women and children by Hamas.
However, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu emphasized that this ceasefire does not mark the end of the war, as the objective remains the elimination of Hamas and the liberation of all hostages.
“We are at war, and we will continue the war until we achieve all our goals. To destroy Hamas, return all our hostages, and ensure that no entity in Gaza can threaten Israel,” Netanyahu asserted before the war cabinet voted on the agreement.
The negotiations, facilitated by Qatar, resulted in the first pause in the ongoing bombardment, allowing for humanitarian aid to access Gaza.
The four-day halt is set to begin soon, with the release of 50 women and children by Hamas. While the precise initiation time of the truce remains unclear, the hostages could start being freed as early as Thursday.
As part of the agreement, the Israeli government announced a potential extension of the lull for an additional day for every 10 hostages released.
Hamas, in a statement welcoming the humanitarian truce, disclosed that 150 Palestinians would be released from Israeli jails as part of the deal.
About 240 people were taken hostage by Hamas on October 7 after an attack on Israel, primarily individuals attending a music festival targeted by the militant group.
The hostages included Israeli citizens and more than half with foreign and dual citizenship from around 40 countries, including the U.S., Thailand, Britain, France, Argentina, Germany, Chile, Spain, and Portugal, as confirmed by Israel’s government.
Despite facing resistance within his war cabinet, Netanyahu defended the decision, describing it as a difficult yet necessary one. Some members of the cabinet expressed concerns that the agreement might provide too many concessions to Hamas.
Hamas had previously released four captives, including U.S. citizens Judith Raanan, 59, and her daughter, Natalie Raanan, 17, citing “humanitarian reasons.”
Israeli women Nurit Cooper, 79, and Yocheved Lifshitz, 85, were also released on October 23. Israeli forces freed one hostage, Ori Megidish, a soldier, on October 30 during their ground invasion.
The Israeli military reported earlier this month that it had recovered the bodies of two hostages in Gaza City, including 19-year-old soldier Noa Marciano.
The unfolding events indicate a complex and delicate situation as both sides navigate the path to a temporary ceasefire, with hopes that the release of hostages will contribute to a more lasting resolution in the future.
This article was created using automation technology and was thoroughly edited and fact-checked by one of our editorial staff members