After nearly seven weeks of fighting, Israel and Hamas agree to hold a ceasefire for four days for hostage release and aid to Gaza.
This Wednesday morning, officials from Israel and Hamas announced in separate statements that they have agreed on a four-day ceasefire, during which Hamas is expected to release a number of Israeli hostages and Israel will stop its air and ground attacks to let international aid arrive to Gaza. Hamas is believed to be holding more than 200 hostages since October 7th.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said in a statement minutes after the agreement went viral that 50 women and children will be released over four days, and for every additional 10 hostages released, the pause would be extended by another day. The statement, however, didn’t mention anything about the release of more Palestinian detainees in exchange.
“Israel’s government is committed to return all the hostages home. Tonight, it approved the proposed deal as a first stage to achieving this goal,” the statement said.
Confirming the news, Hamas also said in a statement Wednesday that the 50 hostages would be released in exchange for 150 Palestinian women and children who are held in Israeli jails. “The truce deal will also allow hundreds of trucks of humanitarian, medical and fuel aid to enter Gaza,” Hamas explained in the statement, adding also that “Israel had committed not to attack or arrest anyone in all parts of Gaza during the truce period.”
Washington welcomed the ceasefire news
Welcoming the news of the four-day ceasefire, US President Joe Biden said in a statement that “today’s deal should bring home additional American hostages, and I will not stop until they are all released.”
It should be noted here that of all the estimated 200 hostages, three are Americans, including a 3-year-old girl whose parents were among those killed during Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack. According to a senior US official from the White House, all the three American hostages are expected to be among the hostages to be released this Thursday.
In addition to Israeli citizens, more than half the hostages held foreign and dual citizenship from some 40 countries including the US, Thailand, Britain, France, Argentina, Germany, Chile, Spain and Portugal, Israel’s government has said.
Wednesday’s agreement for ceasefire is in fact the first truce of a war in which Israeli bombardments have flattened swathes of Hamas-ruled Gaza, have killed 13,300 civilians in the tiny densely populated enclave so far, and have left almost two-thirds of its 2.3 million population homeless.
Bibi still too angry to come to his senses!
Despite the announcement of the truce by the Israeli government, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that he is still determined to continue the war after the ceasefire is expired.
“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,” he said in a recorded message at the start of the government meeting.
In reaction to Netanyahu’s provocative words, Hamas also issued a statement, saying that “as we announce the striking of a truce agreement, we affirm that our fingers remain on the trigger, and our victorious fighters will remain on the look out to defend our people and defeat the occupation.”