Israel-Hamas truce to begin at 7am on Friday with first hostages to be freed – Qatar


Thirteen women and children hostages held by militants in Gaza will be the first to be released – as the the temporary truce in Gaza between Israel and Hamas begins at 7am on Friday, Qatar has said.

Dr Majed Al Ansari, spokesperson for Qatar’s foreign ministry, said it had received a list of the civilians to be freed at 4pm tomorrow and families would be given priority.

He said it was expected Israel would release Palestinian prisoners in return.

“We are hoping that we don’t see any further delays,” he said.

“I think we have reached a point now where everything is in place, we are ready to go on the ground.”

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Mum of hostages: ‘Without them, I lost my life’

The deal, agreed following talks mediated by Qatar, Egypt and the US, will include the Red Cross visiting the hostages and bringing medicines to them.

It would also mean hundreds of trucks carrying humanitarian, medical and fuel supplies would be allowed to enter Gaza, while Israel would halt all air missions over southern Gaza and maintain a daily six-hour daytime no-fly window in the north.

Dr Al Ansari said humanitarian aid would start flowing into Gaza as soon as the truce begins, adding it was “a fraction” of what it needs.

The ceasefire had been set to take effect at 10am local time on Thursday (8am UK time).

The structured agreement was reached and confirmed on Wednesday morning, but more than a day later an expected announcement of the official start time had yet to materialise.

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Gaza: ‘There is nowhere safe’

Asked about the delay by reporters at a news conference in Doha, Dr Al Ansari said discussions had been “very difficult and detailed”.

“We wanted to make sure that nothing would cause harm in the process of getting the hostages out, and the perimeters of the agreement are agreed upon in the operational sense, on both sides,” he said.

Hamas has agreed to free 50 Israeli women and child hostages held by militants in Gaza, in exchange for Israel releasing 150 Palestinian women and children from Israeli jails.

Israel has said the truce could last beyond the initial four days as long as the militants free at least 10 hostages per day.

A Palestinian source has told the Reuters news agency a second wave of releases could see as many as 100 hostages freed by the end of the month.

Both sides have said they will go back to fighting once the truce is over.

Hamas and other militant groups, including Palestinian Islamic Jihad, captured more than 240 hostages when Islamist gunmen rampaged through southern Israeli towns on 7 October, killing around 1,200 people, mostly civilians.

In retaliation, Israel has been bombarding the enclave for weeks as it bids to “wipe out” Hamas. At least 13,000 Palestinians have been killed in the strikes on Gaza, including at least 5,500 children, according to the Hamas-run government.

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