Israel-Hamas war: What we know about the hostage deal

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(LONDON) — Israel and Hamas have agreed to a temporary cease-fire in the war-torn Gaza Strip and the release of dozens of hostages.

Here’s what we know about the deal.

The agreement between the Israeli government and Gaza’s militant rulers, Hamas, was mediated by Qatar, Egypt and the United States. The Qatari Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement on Wednesday morning that the start of the truce “will be announced within 24 hours and will continue for four days, subject to extension.”

Both sides have agreed to a cease-fire in Gaza lasting for at least four days to allow the entry of humanitarian aid and the release of at least 50 hostages — women and children — captured by Hamas from southern Israel on Oct. 7, in exchange for at least 150 Palestinians — women and teenagers — currently being held in Israeli prisons.

The Hamas-held hostages will be released first, followed by the Palestinian prisoners, according to the Israeli government.

An Israeli source briefed on the hostage deal told ABC News that a batch of about 10 to 12 hostages will be released in Gaza each day during the cease-fire. If hostages continue to be released passed the agreed upon four-day truce, then the length of the cease-fire will also be extended, the source said.

The Israeli government confirmed in a statement on Wednesday morning that the “release of every ten additional abductees will result in an additional day of respite.”

An Israeli source told ABC News that the hostage deal involves 30 children. Israeli authorities believe up to 40 children are being held hostage, which would mean some children may not be part of this initial agreement.

Hamas has told the Israeli government that they don’t know where the remaining 10 children are, according to a senior Israeli source. The flexibility of adding more days to the cease-fire was meant in part to allow Hamas to locate and consider freeing the rest of the children, the source told ABC News.

Hamas, which the U.S. has designated a terrorist organization, carried out an unprecedented incursion from Gaza into neighboring Israel by air, land and sea on Oct. 7, killing over 1,200 people and taking more than 200 others hostage, according to the Israel Defense Forces.

In response to the attack, the Israeli military has carried out wide-scale airstrikes on Gaza and a subsequent ground incursion, killing more than 14,000 people and destroying thousands of homes there, according to Gaza’s Hamas-run Ministry of Health. It’s the latest outbreak of war between the two sides.

Gaza, a 140-square-mile territory, is home to more than 2 million Palestinians who have lived under a blockade imposed by Israel and supported by Egypt since Hamas seized power in 2007. Human rights organizations have long described the densely populated strip as the world’s largest open-air prison, due to Israel’s generalized ban on travel for Gaza residents as well as Egypt’s restrictive policies at its shared border.

A senior U.S. administration official told ABC News that three Americans are expected to be among the initial group of hostages who will be released as part of Wednesday’s agreement. Among those U.S. citizens is 3-year-old Abigail Mor Idan, who was left orphaned by the Oct. 7 attack and whose birthday is on Friday, according to the official.

Palestinian Islamic Jihad, another militant group in Gaza, is also holding hostages, including children, and is involved in the agreement as well. The group announced in a statement that they are “in constant coordination with Hamas at different levels, in the field, and the political level, regarding to the deal of the prisoner trade.”

The Israeli government voted early Wednesday to approve the proposed deal. Israeli law requires a 24-hour waiting period after the vote before the agreement can be put into action, during which time the Supreme Court of Israel may need to get involved in the event of any legal challenges. However, it is expected that the cease-fire and the prisoner swap will begin Thursday morning. The details of exactly how it will all be put into motion, such as when the truce will start and the exchange will take place, have not been made public.

Hamas confirmed in a statement on Wednesday morning that the deal also includes bringing “hundreds of trucks of humanitarian, relief, medical and fuel aid into all areas of the Gaza Strip, without exception, in the north and south,” as well as “stopping air traffic” over southern Gaza for four days and over the north for six hours a day from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. local time.

Hamas said Israel has also agreed to making no arrests in Gaza during the cease-fire and “ensuring freedom of movement of people” along Salah al-Din, the main highway connecting the north and south of Gaza.

The Israeli government and multiple Israeli officials have stated publicly that after the brief pause, the Israeli military will continue the war in Gaza.

“There is idle talk out there, as if after the truce for the return of our abductees, we will stop the war. So I would like to make it clear: We are at war and we will continue the war,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in an address to his government on Tuesday night. “We will continue the war until we achieve all our objectives; Eliminate Hamas, return all our abductees and missing persons and ensure that there will be no element in Gaza that threatens Israel.”

ABC News’ Ayat Al-Tawy, Nasser Atta, Justin Gomez, Will Gretsky, Matt Gutman, Ellie Kaufman, Yael Lavie, Jordana Miller, Molly Nagle, Bruno Nota, Becky Perlow, Kirit Radia and Dana Savir contributed to this report.

 

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