Explainer: Israel-Hamas hostage deal – Times of India newsbhunt



Israel and Hamas backed a deal that will free dozens of hostages from Gaza in return for a four-day pause in fighting and the release of a number of Palestinian prisoners — the first lull in a conflict that began Oct. 7 and has killed thousands of people.
In the initial stage of the deal mediated by Qatar, Hamas will free 50 Israeli women and children held in Gaza.Hamas, in a statement posted on Telegram, said Israel has agreed to release about 150 Palestinian prisoners, mostly women and children, in return.
In a second stage that could see the halt in fighting extended, the release of every 10 additional hostages by Hamas — designated a terrorist organization by the US and European Union — will lengthen the pause in fighting by one day, the Israeli prime minister’s office said in a statement overnight.
“The humanitarian pause will also allow the entry of a larger number of humanitarian convoys and relief aid, including fuel designated for humanitarian needs,” Qatar’s government said in a statement early Wednesday. “The starting time of the pause will be announced within the next 24 hours and last for four days, subject to extension.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government emphasized that the agreement doesn’t mean the war is over.
“The Government of Israel, the Israel Defense Forces and the security services will continue the war in order to return home all of the hostages, complete the elimination of Hamas and ensure that there will be no new threat to the State of Israel from Gaza,” according to the Israeli statement.
According to Hamas, the deal includes:
*Entry of hundreds of trucks carrying humanitarian, medical and fuel aid to all Gaza Strip areas, both in the north and south
*Halting air traffic in the south for four days
*Halting air traffic in the north for six hours daily
*During the pause in fighting, Israel agrees not to target or arrest anyone in the entirety of the Gaza Strip
Over the next 24 hours, the names of the Palestinian prisoners set to be released will be made public so that Israelis can appeal to the courts against their being freed.
Three American citizens held in Gaza are expected to be freed as part of the agreement, a US official said.
Financial markets took the news in stride. Neither gold nor crude — the two commodities most impacted when the conflict initially erupted — suggested surprise at the hostage and prisoner-exchange agreement, largely priced in by traders.
Gold held just below $2,000 an ounce, while Brent crude remained steady near $82 a barrel. The war-risk premium for oil has evaporated over recent weeks.
Despite the breakthrough, Netanyahu clarified the government’s position at the start of his cabinet meeting.
“There is nonsense out there as if after the pause in fighting, we will stop the war,” he said.
“We are at war and we will continue it until we achieve all the objectives,” Netanyahu added. “We will eliminate Hamas, return all the hostages and guarantee that there will be no element in Gaza that threatens Israel.”
Red Cross
Once the agreement takes effect, Qatar will run an operations room that will be in contact with the Israelis, Hamas, the Red Cross and US officials to ensure that the elements of the deal go through.
The developments come as international pressure grows on Israel to end its more than six-week retaliatory offensive in Gaza, which authorities in the Hamas-run enclave say has killed more than 14,000 people and triggered a humanitarian crisis.
The Hamas government’s media office said 6,800 people are reported missing or trapped under the rubble. Israel has said the Hamas attacks that started the conflict killed more than 1,200 people, with about 240 initially taken hostage.
‘Center of Gravity’
In the meantime, Israeli forces have been engaged in intense fighting with Hamas in the northern Gaza Strip even as the hostage talks have progressed. The main thrust of Israel’s ground offensive is into Gaza City, which the military describes as Hamas’s “center of gravity.”
Troops have taken control of many parts of the city’s Al Shifa hospital and over the weekend showed videos they say prove Hamas exploited the facility, building a command center and tunnels underneath.
During the pause, the main hospital in northern Gaza will be evacuated and hundreds of patients, wounded, and medical staff will move to hospitals in the south of the Strip, according to an official from the Hamas-controlled health ministry.
Israeli tanks earlier deployed in areas near the hospital. The health ministry said 12 Palestinians were killed in the hospital from shelling.
Qatar said it will continue to try to broker a longer-lasting agreement, saying it “affirms its commitment to ongoing diplomatic efforts to de-escalate tensions, stop the bloodshed, and protect civilians.”





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