Gaza: Temporary ceasefire begins on Friday, Hamas to release 50 hostages
The temporary ceasefire between the Israeli army and Hamas begins on Friday morning at 7.00 local time (6.00 Belgian time), according to a spokesperson for the Qatari Foreign ministry, the mediator between the two parties. At 16.00 local time, 13 hostages will be released, Hamas said.
A list of the 13 hostages, including women and children, has been shared with the Qatari ministry and Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The Qatari spokesperson could not confirm how many hostages would be freed in the next few days. According to Israel, Hamas is holding some 240 people hostage.
Hamas confirmed on Thursday the start of the pause. "This will last four days, starting Friday morning, and includes a complete halt to military activities," the al-Qassam Brigades said in a press release. According to Hamas, it will release 50 hostages on those four days, all of them women and minors. For every hostage Hamas releases, three Palestinian prisoners - also women and minors - will be released by Israel.
During the temporary ceasefire, 200 trucks carrying emergency aid will be able to enter Gaza every day. According to Israel, an extension of the agreement is possible, which would allow for the exchange of more hostages and prisoners and the delivery of additional aid.
Earlier on Thursday, Belgian prime minister Alexander De Croo met Netanyahu in Jerusalem. He said Israel must make more efforts to avoid civilian casualties and advocated opening an additional border crossing to deliver humanitarian aid.
© PHOTO JOHN MACDOUGALL / AFP