The Israeli cabinet, in an extended meeting into Wednesday morning, has officially endorsed an agreement with Hamas….reports Asian Lite News
Qatar, which helped broker an agreement between Israel and Hamas for a four-day humanitarian pause in their ongoing war in Gaza, announced on Wednesday that the effective date of the ceasefire will be announced within 24 hours.
The “starting time of the pause will be announced within the next 24 hours”, the BBC quoted the Qatar government as saying in a statement.
The pause will then last for four days, the statement said, adding that it will be “subject to extension”.
The latest development comes after the Israeli cabinet — after a lengthy meeting that ran into the early hours of Wednesday — approved the agreement with Hamas to secure the release of 50 hostages being held in Gaza since the October 7 attack.
“The government of Israel is obligated to return home all of the hostages… The government has approved the outline of the first stage of achieving this goal, according to which at least 50 hostages – women and children – will be released over four days, during which a pause in the fighting will be held,” the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement.
“The release of every additional 10 hostages will result in one additional day in the pause. The government of Israel, the IDF and the security services will continue the war in order to return home all of the hostages, complete the elimination of Hamas and ensure that there will be no new threat to the State of Israel from Gaza,” it added.
The agreement will also allow hundreds of lorries of humanitarian, medical and fuel aid to enter all parts of the Gaza Strip via Egypt’s Rafah crossing.
Those opposed to the truce however, warned the Israeli Cabinet that this partial hostage deal would derail the process of securing all those in captivity and that it would complicate the military offensive against the militant group in Gaza.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu however dismissed the scepticism and said: “ We are at war and continue to be at war until our objectives are met including destroy Hamas and all our captives are released.”
Meanwhile, an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spokesman said on Wednesday morning that the military is still working out details for the pause in fighting included in the hostage release deal.
IDF spokesperson Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus told CNN: “Until we are told to do so by the Israeli government, we will continue fighting Hamas and when such a deal will come into effect, we will respect that. But we will be very vigilant on the ground.”
The spokesman also warned that he feared Hamas will use the pause in fighting to resupply and regroup.
“Of course we would rather continue to apply pressure on Hamas. But this pause is for a very important cause. I can assure that we will be respectful of any agreement, that we will honor the commitments made by the Israeli government,” he told CNN.
Hailing the move, US President Joe Biden said in a statement that “I welcome the deal to secure the release of hostages taken by the terrorist group Hamas during its brutal assault against Israel on October 7″.
“Jill and I have been keeping all those held hostage and their loved ones close to our hearts these many weeks, and I am extraordinarily gratified that some of these brave souls, who have endured weeks of captivity and an unspeakable ordeal, will be reunited with their families once this deal is fully implemented.
“Today’s deal should bring home additional American hostages, and I will not stop until they are all released,” the statement added.
Wednesday’s development comes more than a week after a major breakthrough was reached on November 12 when the Hamas — after refusing for days — had relented in offering identifying information about several dozen hostages, such as their age, gender and nationalities.
The information confirmed that numerous children and toddlers had been taken captive on October 7.
Israeli authorities have said that there are at least 236 hostages being held in Gaza