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World

Qatar says Gaza ceasefire, hostage release to start Friday

  • War rages on in Gaza as proposed truce is delayed for at least another day
Published November 23, 2023

DOHA: A Gaza truce and hostage release will start on Friday morning, Qatar’s foreign ministry spokesperson said.

“The pause will begin at 7:00 am (0500 GMT) on Friday… and the first batch of civilian hostages will be handed over at approximately 4:00 pm (1400 GMT) on the same day,” Majed Al-Ansari said Thursday.

Thirteen people would freed initially, all women and children from the same families, Ansari said.

When asked about the hostage release, Ansari said “there will be a period of time where the skies will be clear, and that would allow for the hostage release to happen in a safe environment,” explaining that there would be no drones from any country during the process.

UN welcomes Israel-Hamas deal as ‘important step’

Ansari said Palestinians would also be released on Friday but did not specify how many, explaining that a list of names had been approved.

Israel and Hamas, which have been at war since October 7, had announced a deal on Wednesday allowing at least 50 hostages and scores of Palestinian prisoners to be freed, during a four-day truce.

“Obviously every day will include a number of civilians as agreed to total 50 within the four days,” the Qatari spokesperson told a news conference.

“During these four days, information will be collected about the rest of the hostages to consider the possibility of more releases and thus extending the pause,” Ansari added.

UK hosts Arab ministers as ‘crucial’ hostage deal struck

Commenting on the pause, the spokesperson said it entailed “a complete ceasefire… with no attacks from the air or the ground,” adding that he hoped “there will be no violations”.

The deal, facilitated by Qatar, Egypt and the United States, is to take effect in stages that can be extended and broadened. It is also intended to provide aid to Gaza’s 2.4 million residents.

“The agreement, it still… stands and as was agreed upon,” Ansari said.

The agreement follows weeks of war in the Gaza Strip after Hamas broke through the militarised Gaza border with Israel on October 7 in an unprecedented attack.

Israeli officials say about 1,200 people, mostly civilians, were killed and around 240 taken hostage.

Relentless Israeli bombardments and a ground invasion since then have killed more than 14,000 people, mostly women and children, according to the Hamas government in the Gaza Strip.

War rages on in Gaza

War raged on in Gaza on Thursday, as a proposed truce and release of hostages was delayed for at least another day.

Clouds of smoke could be seen billowing above northern Gaza’s war zone from across the fence in Israel as daylight broke over the Gaza Strip, accompanied by the sounds of heavy gunfire and booming explosions.

In Rafah on the strip’s southern edge where hundreds of thousands have sought shelter, residents combed with their bare hands through the ruins of a house smashed in a giant crater. A grey-bearded man wailed in sorrow, lying among shattered masonry while another man lay his hand on his shoulder to comfort him.

The Israeli military said it had launched 300 air strikes in the past day.

‘We need to know if they are alive’

The delay to the start of the truce meant another day of worry for Israeli relatives who say they still know nothing about the fate of hostages, and of fear for Palestinian families trapped inside the Gaza combat zone.

“We need to know they are alive, if they’re okay. It’s the minimum,” said Gilad Korngold, desperate for any information about the fate of seven of his family members, including his 3-year-old granddaughter, believed to be among the hostages.

At a tented camp for displaced people in Khan Younis in the south of the Gaza Strip, Omar al-Salawat had hoped a truce might make it possible for his family to return to their home.

“Every time we prepare ourselves, our souls are revived again when we hear good news. We told ourselves it’s time to go back home. Then all of a sudden they say that the truce didn’t work out,” he told Reuters. “Our kids are tired, we want to live with our children safe and sound.”

Comments

200 characters
werwer Nov 23, 2023 10:32pm
Hamas could have done this earlier, and saved thousands of lives.
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uncommon sense Nov 23, 2023 11:16pm
The Palestinians can genuinely live in peace, on the path to prosperity, if they give up their brazen rhetoric to rid the whole of Palestine of Jews, and not vote for the likes of Hamas. They haven’t accepted the two-state solution. Until then, keep producing and sacrificing your children…
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