Israel and Hamas to begin four-day ceasefire on Friday – brokered by Qatar

Gaza/Jerusalem, Nov. 23 (Reuters) – Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas will begin a four-day ceasefire on Friday morning, with the first batch of Israeli hostages released later that day, mediators in Qatar said.

The deal – the first in a brutal, seven-week-old war – will begin at 7 a.m. local time (0500 GMT) and include a comprehensive cease-fire in northern and southern Gaza, a spokesman for Qatar’s foreign ministry said.

Aid will begin flowing into Gaza and Israeli hostages will be freed at 4 p.m. Palestinians are expected to be released from Israeli prisons as part of the deal, ministry spokesman Majid al-Ansari told reporters in Doha.

Hamas – which was expected to stall talks with Israel a day earlier on Thursday – confirmed on its Telegram channel that all hostilities by its forces would cease.

Israel has received a preliminary list of hostages to be released from Gaza, which it plans to hold after a ceasefire with Hamas is reached on Friday, the Israeli prime minister’s office said Thursday.

Israel launched its war in Gaza after Hamas gunmen crossed the border fence on October 7, killing 1,200 people and taking about 240 hostages, according to Israeli accounts.

Since then, more than 14,000 Gazans have been killed by Israeli bombing, 40% of them children, according to health officials in the Hamas-ruled territory.

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Israel has said the ceasefire will last beyond the initial four days until the militants release at least 10 hostages a day. A Palestinian source said a second wave of releases could see the release of 100 hostages by the end of November.

Both sides have said they will resume fighting once the ceasefire ends.

Reporting by Reuters Bureau Writing by Peter Graf and Andrew Heavens Editing by William McLean and Mark Heinrich

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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