In a significant diplomatic breakthrough following weeks of intense conflict, Israel and Hamas have announced a historic agreement.
The deal, reached on Wednesday, includes the release of at least 50 hostages and numerous Palestinian prisoners, as well as the establishment of a four-day truce aimed at providing relief to the besieged Gaza residents.
This development comes after enduring weeks of Qatar-brokered negotiations, which ultimately culminated in Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet approving the truce accord during an all-night meeting. Netanyahu emphasized the gravity of the decision, stating, “It’s a difficult decision, but it’s the right decision.”
The prolonged negotiations, described by a U.S. official as “extremely excruciating,” finally paved the way for this crucial agreement.
Under the terms of the deal, Palestinian militants will release 50 women and children who were kidnapped during raids on October 7. Additionally, Hamas has pledged to release 150 Palestinians from Israeli jails.
Hamas released a statement expressing their support for the “humanitarian truce” and affirmed their commitment to it as long as Israel honors the agreement. A Hamas official stated, “The resistance is committed to the truce as long as the occupation honors it.”
The conflict between the two sides escalated dramatically following a cross-border attack by Hamas gunmen on October 7, which Israeli authorities described as the worst in the country’s history. The attack resulted in approximately 1,200 casualties, primarily civilians, according to the Israeli government.
In response to the attack and the hostage situation involving around 240 individuals, including elderly people and young children, Israel declared war on Hamas, vowing to secure the release of the hostages and dismantle the militant group. This declaration led to a substantial bombing campaign and ground offensive in Gaza.
According to the Hamas government in Gaza, the conflict has claimed the lives of 14,100 people, including thousands of children. Israel has now announced a four-day “pause” in its six-week-long air, land, and sea assault on Gaza to facilitate the release of the hostages. Importantly, Israel has emphasized that this agreement does not signal the end of the overall conflict.
As part of the agreement, for every 10 additional hostages released, there will be an additional day of the “pause” in hostilities, according to the Israeli government.
This breakthrough raises hopes for a temporary respite in the ongoing hostilities and offers a glimpse of potential progress towards a more lasting peace in the region. The world will be closely watching the implementation of this truce and its impact on the situation in Gaza.