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Israel, Hamas confirm deal on releasing hostages, ceasefire

Xinhua | Updated: 2023-11-22 10:22
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People are seen among the rubble of buildings destroyed in an Israeli airstrike in the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah, on Nov 15, 2023. [Photo/Xinhua]

JERUSALEM/GAZA/DOHA - Israel and Hamas on Wednesday confirmed their agreement on a Qatar-mediated proposal for a ceasefire in Gaza.

In exchange for Hamas to release hostages, the Israeli side agreed to release Palestinian prisoners and allow more humanitarian aid to enter the besieged enclave, said the Israeli government in a statement.

Under the deal, at least 50 hostages, mainly children and women, would be freed for the release of about 150 female and teen Palestinian prisoners from Israeli prisons, said the statement from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office.

The hostages will be released in smaller groups over a span of four days, during which "there will be a full ceasefire in the fighting", it said.

Israel is pressing for freeing more children. The ceasefire would be extended for an extra day for every additional 10 hostages released by Hamas, it said.

Hamas confirmed the four-day ceasefire agreement with Israel on Wednesday under a Qatari-Egyptian mediation after 46 days of bloody conflict in the besieged coastal enclave.

"After complex negotiations, we have reached a humanitarian ceasefire with Israel. It will include the stop of all military operations in the Gaza Strip and the Israeli army will stop all movement of its military vehicles in all the territories in Gaza," Hamas said in a press statement.

In addition to exchanging hostages, hundreds of trucks loaded with humanitarian aid, medicine, and fuel will be allowed to enter all areas of Gaza, it said.

During the ceasefire, Israeli drones will stop operation for four days in southern Gaza, and stop working in the north for six hours a day starting from 10:00 am (0400 GMT) until 16:00 pm (1000 GMT), it added.

Moreover, the Israeli army will allow the residents to move freely from northern Gaza to the southern territories, Hamas said.

Later in the day, the Qatari Foreign Ministry confirmed the ceasefire agreement, which was jointly mediated by Qatar, Egypt and the United States, adding that the starting time of the pause will be announced within the next 24 hours.

Qatar reaffirmed its commitment to de-escalating tensions, preventing bloodshed, and protecting civilians through diplomatic efforts.

Since the new round of Palestinian-Israeli conflict erupted on Oct 7, Qatar has been making efforts to mediate between the warring parties, secure the release of hostages held by Hamas, and de-escalate the situation in Gaza.

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