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Israel, Hamas agree ceasefire to release hostages held in Gaza

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Israel’s government and Hamas agreed on Wednesday to a four-day pause in fighting to allow the release of 50 hostages held in Gaza in exchange for 150 Palestinians imprisoned in Israel, and the entry of humanitarian aid into the besieged enclave.

Officials from Qatar, which has been mediating secret negotiations, as well as the U.S., Israel, and Hamas have for days been saying a deal was imminent.

Hamas is believed to be holding more than 200 hostages, taken when its fighters surged into Israel on October 7, killing 1,200 people, according to Israeli tallies.

A statement by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said 50 women and children will be released over four days, during which there will be a pause in fighting.

For every additional 10 hostages released, the pause would be extended by another day, it said, without mentioning the release of Palestinian prisoners in exchange.

“Israel’s government is committed to returning all the hostages home. Tonight, it approved the proposed deal as a first stage to achieving this goal,” said the statement, released after hours of deliberation closed to the press.

Hamas said the 50 hostages would be released in exchange for 150 Palestinian women and children held in Israeli jails.

The truce deal will also allow hundreds of trucks of humanitarian, medical, and fuel aid to enter Gaza, the Palestinian group said in a statement.

It added that Israel committed not to attack or arrest anyone in all parts of Gaza during the truce period.

Reuters/NAN

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