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Michaël Blum – Agence France-Presse and Adel Zaanoun – Agence France-Presse respectively in Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip

November 22, 2023

  • Middle East

The entry into force of a truce agreement between Israel and Hamas planning the release of 50 hostages held in the Gaza Strip in exchange for 150 Palestinian prisoners will not intervene before Friday, Israeli officials announced Thursday.

While the Gaza Strip remained the scene of fighting on Wednesday, media reports said the truce would come into effect at 0800 GMT on Thursday, and a Hamas official said he expected “an initial exchange of 10 hostages for 30 prisoners as early as Thursday.”

But the head of Israel's National Security Council, Tzachi Hanegbi, said the release of the hostages will come “not before Friday” and that negotiations “continue incessantly.” .

And there will be “no pause” in the fighting on Thursday, an Israeli official immediately told AFP.

The Israeli government said it had approved this agreement which involves the release of at least 50 hostages, women and children, citing a “lull in fighting” for four days. According to him, 50 hostages should be released in exchange for 150 Palestinian prisoners during the truce.

In Israel, the main association of hostage families declared itself “happy” with the announcement of a “partial release”, but said he did not know for the moment “who will be released and when”.

“It gives me hope to see my daughters return,” said Maayan Zin, mother of two children held in Gaza.

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The agreement was announced on the 47th day of the war, triggered by an attack of unprecedented scale and violence in Israeli history carried out on October 7 by Hamas on Israeli soil. According to the authorities, 1,200 people, the vast majority civilians, were killed.

Around 240 people were kidnapped on the day of the attack by the Palestinian Islamist movement.

In retaliation for the October 7 attack, Israel, which promised to “annihilate” Hamas, is relentlessly bombing the Gaza Strip, where more than 14,000 people have been killed, including more than 5,800 children, according to the Gaza government. Islamist movement in power since 2007 in this territory of some 360 ​​km2. The Gaza Strip has also been under siege since October 9 by Israel, which has cut off water, electricity and fuel supplies.

“Mountain of the dead”

The bombings have devastated the territory and caused a serious humanitarian crisis according to the UN, including the displacement of more than 1.7 million of Gaza's 2.4 million inhabitants, where aid is drops.

Detailing the terms of the agreement, Qatar Foreign Affairs spokesperson Majed Al-Ansari said that “every day a certain number of hostages will be released, and this number is expected to reach 50 by the 4th day” of truce. The agreement does not provide for the release of kidnapped soldiers.

Israel has released a list of 300 Palestinian prisoners likely to be released (33 women, 123 adolescents under the age of 18, and 144 young people aged about 18 years old). Among them are 49 members of Hamas.

According to Israeli authorities, other exchanges could take place as part of an extension of the truce, with a total of 100 hostages for 300 Palestinian prisoners.

At the Vatican, Pope Francis separately received relatives of hostages and Palestinians with family in Gaza. He warned of “a mountain of death” in this war.

In East Jerusalem, the part of the city occupied by Israel since 1967, Palestinian Samira Douayyat cannot contain her emotions as she talks about the possible release of her daughter Shourouk, 26, who will have served half of her 16-year prison sentence. prison. “I cry, I laugh, I tremble,” she told AFP.

“Insufficient”

The humanitarian pause will also allow The entry of “a greater number of humanitarian and aid convoys, including fuel,” Qatar said.

Some 200 to 300 aid trucks will enter Gaza, including eight with fuel and gas, said a Hamas executive, Taher al-Nounou.

Palestinian President Mamhmoud Abbas, like his Egyptian counterparts, Abdel Fattah al-Sissi, and American, Joe Biden, welcomed the agreement reached. This “humanitarian truce must make it possible to negotiate the conditions of a ceasefire” which must be “as lasting as possible”, pleaded the French President, Emmanuel Macron.

The The UN called it an “important step”, but also said that “much remains to be done.”

This limited truce is “insufficient” to bring the necessary aid into Gaza, several stressed. International NGOs, calling for a ceasefire.

The territory has become “the most dangerous place in the world for a child”, also denounced the head of UNICEF, Catherine Russell, expressing alarm at the risks of epidemic and massive increase in cases of malnutrition. /p>

“What truce? »

Despite the agreement, Israel said the war would continue to “eliminate Hamas and ensure that there is no further threat […] from Gaza.”

< p>“We confirm that our hands will remain on the trigger,” warned Hamas, classified as a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union.

On Wednesday, the Israeli army continued its bombings on Gaza, where it has also been carrying out a ground offensive since October 27.

According to civil defense, more than 30 people were killed after strikes on houses in northern Gaza.

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“They talk about a truce, but what truce? A truce with injuries, deaths, destroyed homes? We don’t want a truce if we can’t return to our homes, we don’t want a truce for a little food,” said Maysara al-Sabbagh, 42, who took refuge in Khan Younes, in the southern Gaza Strip.

“What does the truce mean if I can’t go home,” added Saddam al-Sawafiri. “We have been sleeping on the streets for 40 or 45 days. »

The war also raises fears of a regional escalation involving in particular the Lebanese Hezbollah in the north of Israel and the Yemeni Houthi rebels in the south.

The son of Mohamed Raad, an important member of Hezbollah in the Lebanese parliament, was killed Wednesday in an Israeli bombing in southern Lebanon, a source close to the family told AFP. The Israeli army confirmed airstrikes against Hezbollah in Lebanon without mentioning any toll.

Israel also intercepted a “cruise missile” launched towards southern Israel, a shot claimed by the Houthis .

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116