A temporary ceasefire in Gaza and the first release of hostages taken by Hamas will take place Friday, Qatari officials said Thursday after helping Israel and Hamas reach a truce that would bring the first pause in fighting since Hamas attacked southern Israel on Oct. 7.
The four-day ceasefire in Gaza will begin Friday at 7 a.m. local time, Qatari officials said Thursday.
Thirteen of the 50 hostages Hamas agreed to return as part of the deal will be released Friday at 4 p.m. local time, Majed Al Ansari, a spokesman for the Qatari foreign ministry, said.
Elderly women and children are among the hostages who will be released Friday afternoon, Al Ansari said.
240. That’s approximately how many Israeli and foreign nationals have been held hostage by Hamas since the Oct. 7 attack, according to the Israeli Army. In the weeks since the fighting began, at least two hostages held by Hamas have been found dead, according to the Israeli Defense Forces—19-year-old Israeli soldier Noa Marciano and 65-year-old Yehudit Weiss. Hamas has also released four hostages.
Earlier this week, Qatar brokered an agreement between Israel and Hamas to release some of the hostages taken by Hamas in exchange for a ceasefire. Some 50 women and children who have been held captive by Hamas since it launched its attack on Israel on Oct. 7 will be released, the Qatari government announced Wednesday. Three of the hostages expected to be released are Americans, including three-year-old Abigail Mor Edan, whose parents were killed on Oct. 7, a senior U.S. official told Reuters. In exchange for the hostages, the Israelis will release 150 Palestinian women and children who are being held in Israeli prisons and allow hundreds of trucks carrying aid into the area, according to Hamas’ statement. The Israelis also said that for every ten additional hostages released by Hamas, it would extend the ceasefire by one day, as scores of hostages remain in Gaza.