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Israeli-Hamas Ceasefire Begins Today

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A four-day truce agreed by Israel and Hamas is due to begin at 7 am (0500 GMT) on Friday, mediator Qatar said.

The beginning of the four-day truce on Friday will mark the first pause in fighting in nearly seven weeks of war.

Qatari Foreign Ministry spokesman Majid al-Ansari said the first batch of 13 civilian hostages held in the Gaza Strip would be released at 4 pm on Friday.

All of the 13 are women and children.

“And those hostages who are from the same families will be put together within the same batch.

“Obviously, every day will include a number of civilians, as agreed, to total 50 within the four days,” the official said.

The deal, announced by Qatar on Wednesday, involves a four-day pause in fighting between both sides to let desperately needed aid flow into Gaza.

It also foresees the release in stages of 100 hostages from Gaza and 300 Palestinian prisoners held in Israel.

“We have just finished with all the communication with all parties in order to ascertain the lists of those civilians who will be freed as a result of the deal agreed upon by both parties,” al-Ansari said at a news conference in Doha.

The official declined to say how many Palestinians in Israeli prisons will be released on Friday.

“Lists (of people to be released) on the first day are available to both sides,” al-Ansari said.

He added that humanitarian aid to the densely populated Gaza is an “integral part” of the deal.

For its part, the al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the Hamas movement, confirmed the start time of the truce, saying it will be accompanied by a cessation of all military actions on both sides throughout its four days.

Three Palestinian prisoners, including women and children, will be released for every one Israeli hostage, it added in a statement.

Egypt, which along with Qatar and the U.S. helped broker the deal, called on both sides to abide by its implementation.

Israel’s government has so far refused to confirm the timing of the pause. But the army said it would continue fighting in the Gaza Strip until the moment the truce begins.

Army spokesman Richard Hecht said that military attacks could even be intensified until then.

Defence Minister Yoav Gallant said Israel would continue its intensive fighting in the Gaza Strip for at least another two months once the “short” ceasefire ends, according to Israeli media reports.

Soldiers should organise, resupply weapons, and prepare for the coming battles during the short ceasefire, Gallant told troops of the Navy’s Shayetet 13 commando unit, as quoted by the Times of Israel newspaper.

“This respite will be short,” Gallant said, adding that after the pause the army will continue to exert pressure to return more hostages held in the Gaza Strip to Israel.

After the end of this intense fighting, there will be a need for continued multiple operations in Gaza until there is no longer a military threat from there, the minister said.

The Israeli military (IDF) has been pounding Gaza with airstrikes ever since the unprecedented Hamas attacks on Israeli border towns on Oct. 7 in which some 1,200 people were killed and some 240 were taken hostage in the Palestinian coastal area.

The IDF also launched a ground advance into Gaza that has so far focused on the north, including Gaza City.

According to the Hamas-controlled Health Ministry in Gaza, more than 14,800 civilians have been killed in the war so far. Schools, hospitals and ambulances have also been hit, according to the United Nations.

The IDF on Thursday morning said their air force has struck more than 300 Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip within one day.

The Israeli military also arrested Mohammed Abu Salmiya, the director of the al-Shifa Hospital in the Gaza Strip. The army and Israel’s domestic intelligence service Shin Bet said on Thursday that evidence showed the largest hospital in the Gaza Strip had served as a command and control centre for Hamas under Abu Salmiya’s leadership.

The director had been handed over to the intelligence service and was to be questioned as to why there had been military activity in and under the hospital.

Hamas condemned the arrest and denied Israel’s accusation that the hospital had been used for terrorist purposes


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