Israel and Hamas agree temporary ceasefire and hostage deal

The Israeli government has agreed to a multi-day ceasefire in Gaza and an exchange of hostages for Palestinian prisoners.

Under the agreement, Israeli hostages being held by Hamas will be exchanged for Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. Hamas will release 30 kidnapped children and 20 women during a multi-day ceasefire, an Israeli government official said.

According to the official, all branches of Israel's security services - the army and the Shin Bet and Mossad intelligence agencies - support the planned deal. The deal only applies to Israeli hostages who are still alive. 

“After many days of difficult and complex negotiations, we announce, with the help and blessing of God, that we have reached a humanitarian truce,” Hamas said in a statement obtained by the New York Times.

“While we now announce the arrival of the truce agreement, we affirm that our hands will remain on the trigger, and our triumphant brigades will remain on the lookout to defend our people and to defeat the occupation and aggression,” Hamas said.

US president Joe Biden welcomed the news of the hostage deal, which will also see the release of three American hostages. “I am extraordinarily gratified that some of these brave souls, who have endured weeks of captivity and an unspeakable ordeal, will be reunited with their families once this deal is fully implemented,” he said on Tuesday.

"I wholeheartedly welcome the agreement reached on the release of the 50 hostages and on a pause in hostilities," European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said on Wednesday. "Every day these mothers and children are held hostage by terrorists is one too many," she said.


Smoke billows during an Israeli bombardment in the northern Palestinian territories on 21 November © PHOTO FADEL SENNA / AFP

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