Despite both Hamas and Israel confirmed the achievement of a four-day truce to happen Thursday, they are now delaying the timeline, making the future of the conflict even more ambiguous.
Less than one day after officials of both Israel and Hamas announced their agreement on a four-day ceasefire to be implemented from Thursday, Israel now says the deal cannot materialize at least till Friday. In a statement issued Thursday evening, Israeli national security adviser Tzachi Hanegbi said that the release of at least 50 Israeli and foreign hostages held by Hamas was still on track, but the deal would not happen on Thursday as expected.
“The contacts on the release of our hostages are advancing and continuing constantly,” he said in the statement, adding that “the start of the release will take place according to the original agreement between the sides, and not before Friday.”
To make the future of the four-day truce deal even more ambiguous, another Israeli official from the Netanyahu government confirmed the delay and also noted that a temporary halt in fighting would also “not begin on Thursday.”
Hamas hits back by delaying the deal as well
Confirming the delay in the implementation of the four-day ceasefire between Hamas and Israel, one Palestinian official with knowledge of the negotiation process said Thursday that the delay was due to “last minute” details over which hostages would be released and how.
“The truce was expected to go into force on Thursday but is now delayed during the night, had been put back over the names of the Israeli hostages and the modalities of their release”, said the official.
With the help of Qatar, Egypt and the United States as the mediators, Israel and Hamas finally agreed after days of indirect negotiations to hold fire and set up a truce for four days, temporarily ending 47 days of war and deprivation. It had been agreed that Hamas release 50 Israeli hostages, and for every 10 additional hostages released, there would be an extra day’s “pause” in fighting.
In return, Israel would release at least 150 Palestinian women and children and allow more humanitarian aid into the besieged coastal territory after weeks of bombardment and heavy fighting. Israel says that around 240 hostages were taken by Hamas and other Palestinian gunmen during raids into Israel on October 7, which also killed 1,200 people.
Disagreement in Tel Aviv over the truce deal
But the deal was not in favor of everyone in Israeli government as Minister for National Security Itamar Ben-Gvir described it a “historic mistake” that would embolden Hamas and risk the lives of Israeli troops. Netanyahu, however, supported the truce deal with Hamas, but at the same time, he promised that the ceasefire would only be temporary and would not end the campaign to destroy Hamas.
“We are winning and will continue to fight until absolute victory,” he said on Wednesday, vowing to secure Israel from threats emanating from Gaza and Lebanon, home to Iranian-backed Hezbollah militants. The White House, however, is against escalating tensions and since October 7, it has pressed Israel not to spark a war that could drag in Washington.