Qatar on Wednesday, November 22 announced a truce-for-hostages deal between Israel and Hamas that would bring the first temporary halt in fighting in a devastating six-week war, win freedom for dozens of hostages held in the Gaza Strip, and also lead to the release of Palestinian prisoners.
Qatar’s Foreign Ministry, which mediated the deal, said it would announce within a day when the clock will start ticking on a four-day truce, during which 50 hostages will be released in exchange for Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.
Those freed by both sides will be women and children. Humanitarian aid to besieged Gaza would also increase.
The announcement came hours after Israel’s Cabinet approved the deal. It ended weeks of indirect Qatari-led negotiations between Israel and Hamas, an Islamic militant group that has ruled Gaza for 16 years. The United States and Egypt were also involved in the talks to free hostages.
Hamas said the deal includes the release of 50 hostages and 150 Palestinian prisoners, all women and minors.
Office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the deal calls for a four-day cease-fire, during which Israel will halt its military offensive in Gaza while Hamas frees “at least” 50 of the roughly 240 hostages it and other militants are holding.
“The government of Israel is committed to bringing all of the hostages home. Tonight, the government approved the outline for the first stage of achieving this goal,” the office said in a statement. The statement made no mention of the release of Palestinian prisoners and increased humanitarian aid.
Ahead of the Cabinet vote, which came after a six-hour meeting stretching into the early morning, Netanyahu said the war against Hamas would resume after the truce expires.
“We are at war, and we will continue the war,” he said. “We will continue until we achieve all our goals.”
The government statement added that the truce would be extended an extra day for every additional 10 hostages released by Hamas.
The war started on Oct. 7 when several thousand Hamas militants burst across the border into Israel, killing at least 1,200 people and taking hundreds hostage. Most of the dead were civilians, while the hostages included small children, women and older people.
Israel responded with weeks of devastating airstrikes on Gaza, followed by a ground invasion that began over three weeks ago.