Israel - Hamas War: Release of Gaza hostages is pushed back 24 hours after Israel and Hamas

Hamas War: Release of Gaza hostages delayed 24 hours after Israel and Hamas ‘fail to reach agreement on which captives should be released first’

The release of hostages held in Gaza was delayed 24 hours after Israel and Hamas were unable to reach agreement on which prisoners should be released first, a Palestinian official said.

Israel has agreed to a deal that sees the release of 50 women and children kidnapped by Hamas gunmen in October during a four-day truce.

The process of recovering the hostages was due to begin today at 10am (8am GMT), but authorities said no captives would be freed until Friday, prolonging the torment of their relatives.

The truce was delayed because Israel and Hamas were unable to reach agreement on which hostages would be released first and how, a Palestinian official said, adding that a list of those to be released had been exchanged by both sides.

Questions were also raised about Red Cross access to the hostages before they were released in Egypt, said the official, who is aware of the negotiation process.

Details on when the ceasefire would come into effect would be announced by mediator Qatar “in coordination with the Egyptians and the Americans, in the next few hours today,” he said.

Israeli Authorities said they would not notify families in advance to spare them anguish if Hamas changed its mind or decided to release different relatives when the ceasefire began.

Last night, Daniel Hagari, IDF spokesman, said that the release of the hostages, in exchange for 150 Palestinians, was a “complicated and not closed process”.

“The next few days will be characterized by moments of relief and moments of pain,” said Hagari. ‘May also include attempts at psychological terrorism by the terrorist organization.’

Speaking on Thursday morning, Qatari Foreign Ministry spokesman Majid bin Mohammed Al Ansari said an announcement on the start of the truce could come in the coming hours. Qatar has been a mediator in the truce negotiations.

“Negotiations on the release of our hostages are progressing and continue constantly,” said Israeli National Security Advisor Tzachi Hanegbi in a statement released by the prime minister’s office.

“The release will begin in accordance with the original agreement between the parties, and not before Friday,” he said.

White House spokeswoman Adrienne Watson said final logistical details for the launch were being worked out. “This is on track and we expect implementation to begin Friday morning,” Watson said.

The news of the delay in the truce was released a few hours after the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised during a televised press conference to “rescue all hostages held by Hamas” and “destroy” the terrorist group.

Netanyahu, accompanied by the other two members of his special war cabinet, also said that after the four-day ceasefire, the war would resume and continue “until we achieve all our objectives.”

Israel’s objectives are to destroy Hamas’ military capabilities and return all 240 hostages held captive in Gaza.

Under the terms of the ceasefire agreement, Hamas must release 50 women and children of the approximately 240 hostages it holds in the Gaza Strip over a four-day period, the Israeli government said.

In return, Israel will release 150 Palestinians held in Israeli prisons and allow 300 aid trucks to enter Gaza each day of the ceasefire to bring much-needed aid to civilians trapped there.

The hostages to be released in the process are women and children, and the Palestinian prisoners are women and men detained aged 18 and under.

There are at least 35 children among the hostages, 18 of them aged 10 or younger, according to an AFP count, as well as more than 50 women.

Israel said the exchange would take place in two phases. In a first phase, 50 hostages and 150 Palestinian prisoners are expected to be released during the truce. If successful, a second phase could result in the release of a further 150 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for another 50 hostages during an extended truce, the Israeli government said.


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