DEIR AL-BALAH, Gaza Strip, Nov 23, (Agencies): A four-day cease-fire in Gaza between Israel and Hamas will begin Friday morning, Qatar said, a day later than originally announced, as negotiators worked out final details of the deal, which is to lead to the release of dozens of hostages held by militants and Palestinians imprisoned by Israel. The diplomatic breakthrough promised some relief for the 2.3 million Palestinians in Gaza who have endured weeks of Israeli bombardment, as well as families in Israel fearful for the fate of their loved ones taken captive during Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack that triggered the war.
The deal appeared to hit a last-minute snag when Israel’s national security advisor, Tzachi Hanegbi, announced a one-day delay late Wednesday, without providing a reason. The cease-fire was originally set to begin Thursday morning. On Thursday, Majed al-Ansari, a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry of Qatar, which played a key role in mediating with Hamas, announced the ceasefire will start at 7 am local time Friday (5 am GMT.) He said the two sides had exchanged lists of those to be released, and the first group of hostages held by Hamas – including 13 women and children – would be freed Friday afternoon. Increased aid for Palestinians will start to enter “as soon as possible,” al-Ansari said. Kuwaiti Ministry of Foreign Affairs welcomed Thursday the announcement by Qatar for successful mediation in brokering a humanitarian pause agreement in the Gaza Strip, in partnership with the US and Egypt.
The humanitarian pause will trigger an exchange of hostages and detainees, notably women and children, in Israeli occupation prisons and in the Gaza Strip, in addition to a temporary ceasefire and entry of humanitarian and relief aid into Gaza, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement . The State of Kuwait praises the agreement but calls for the continuation of such efforts to ensure a permanent ceasefire and protect Palestinians in Gaza from ferocious attacks by occupied Israeli forces.
The Health Ministry in Hamas-ruled Gaza, meanwhile, resumed its detailed count of Palestinian casualties from the war, saying over 13,300 have been killed. The new numbers were not fully broken down, but in past tallies, women and minors have consistently made up around two-thirds of the dead. The figures do not include updated numbers from hospitals in the north, where services and communication largely broke down earlier this month.
The ministry says some 6,000 people have been reported missing and are feared to be buried under rubble. The ministry does not differentiate between civilians and militants in its death tolls. Israel says it has killed thousands of Hamas fighters, without providing evidence for its count. The ministry stopped publishing casualty counts as of November. 11, saying it had lost the ability to do so because of the collapse of the health sector in the north. The truce agreement had raised hopes of eventually winding down the war, which had leveled vast swathes of Gaza, fueled a surge of violence in the occupied West Bank, and stirred fears of a wider conflagration across the Middle East. Air raid sirens sounded across northern Israel on Thursday as Hezbollah said it fired 48 Katyusha rockets from southern Lebanon.
The barrage came after an Israeli strike killed five Hezbollah fighters, including the son of the head of the group’s parliamentary bloc. The Israeli military said it was striking the sources of the launches. Israel and Hezbollah, which fought a month-long war in 2006, have repeatedly traded fire across the border since the war in Gaza broke out. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to continue the war after the truce expires, with the goal of destroying Hamas’ military capabilities, ending its 16-year rule in Gaza, and returning all of the estimated 240 captives held in Gaza by Hamas and other groups. “We will continue it until we achieve all our goals,” Netanyahu said, adding that he had delivered the same message in a phone call to US President Joe Biden. Washington has provided extensive military and diplomatic support to Israel since the start of the war.
The post Gaza ceasefire set to begin Friday: Qatar first appeared on ARAB TIMES – KUWAIT NEWS.