Temporary Gaza ceasefire to come into effect on Thursday – Hamas and Israel officials

A temporary truce between Hamas and Israel will begin at 10am on Thursday, a senior Hamas official said on Wednesday.

The majority of the 50 hostages to be released from Gaza hold foreign citizenship, Musa Abu Mazrouq told Al Jazeera.

He said the hostages were being held in “Palestinian homes”, rather than prisons.

Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen said earlier on Wednesday he expected the first hostages to be released on Thursday.

“The process to begin recovering the hostages will begin first thing tomorrow morning,” Mr Cohen told Israel’s army radio on Wednesday afternoon, but would not comment on exact timing.

Israeli ministers have been briefed that the deal will be implemented tomorrow, the country’s media reported.

Hamas was expected to give names of the first 10 hostages to be released late on Wednesday, Israel’s Kan public broadcaster reported, saying the deal will allow the release of 30 children, 12 mothers and eight elderly women.

Israel, in turn, is expected to inform Hamas which prisoners will be released each day.

After six hours of deliberation, the Israeli cabinet voted to accept a four-day temporary pause in a deal with Hamas after mounting pressure from hostages’ families protesting across Israel in recent weeks.

The Israeli government said the deal included the release of 50 hostages held in Gaza.

“At least 50 hostages – women and children – will be released over four days, during which a pause in the fighting will be held,” the government said. “The release of every additional 10 hostages will result in one additional day in the pause.”

Israel’s statement made no mention of Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails being released though according to the government of Qatar, who helped to negotiate the deal, the hostages will be released in exchange for “a number of Palestinian women and children detained in Israeli prisons”.

Qatar said the start time of the temporary pause in fighting would be announced within 24 hours.

As part of the deal, Israel will allow “a larger number of humanitarian convoys and relief aid, including fuel designated for humanitarian needs” into the Gaza Strip.

After the announcement of the agreement, the Israeli government released a statement on its future intentions for the conflict.

“The Israeli government is committed to bringing all the abductees home,” the statement said.

It added: “The Israeli government, the [military] and the security forces will continue the war to return all the abductees, complete the elimination of Hamas and ensure that Gaza does not renew any threat to the state of Israel.”

Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman welcomed the agreement on X. “We thank our partners who contributed to reaching the humanitarian pause agreement in Gaza, particularly the US and Egypt,” he said.

US President Joe Biden also welcomed the agreement.

“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,” he said.

“Today’s deal should bring home additional American hostages, and I will not stop until they are all released.”

Hostage release ‘to take place in five stages’

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office has devised a process for the hostages to be released and transferred to the country’s authorities, Channel 12 reported on Tuesday.

First, Hamas will hand over the hostages to the Red Cross and they will be transferred to representatives from the Israeli military.

Authorities will then conduct medical checks on the hostages before taking them to medical centres across Israel to be reunited with their families.

The fourth stage will include medical and defence authorities working together to determine whether any of the hostages can be debriefed.

Those hostages will then undergo a debriefing with security officials.

Six hospitals in Israel are ready to receive people freed as part of the hostage deal. They will be cared for in designated compounds, separate from other patients and the media.

Once released, the hostages will be received at Sheba Medical Centre in Tel Hashomer, Shamir Medical Centre, Wolfson, Soroka and Ichilov hospitals, and the Schneider Children’s Medical Centre.

Mr Netanyahu said the agreement included access for the Red Cross to those who would remain hostage in Gaza and that they would have access to any medicine they needed.

Israel-Gaza conflict moves to a new standpoint

If successful, this will mark the largest release of hostages since Hamas militants conducted a deadly assault on Israeli soil more than a month ago, killing about 1,200 people and abducting about 240.

The attack has fuelled Israel’s retaliatory bombardment and ground incursion of the Gaza Strip.

If it holds, the ceasefire will be the longest period in the war without fighting between Israeli forces and militants.

Israel’s military has engaged in ground operations and an aerial bombardment since the October 7 attack, resulting in at least 14,000 deaths, according to local tallies.

It is reported that hostages include Israelis and citizens from other countries.

Four hostages have been released since the day of the attack, two Americans and two Israelis.

The International Committee of the Red Cross has assisted in the release of the hostages.

The National 

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