Israel, Hamas Agree to Truce, Paving Way for Captives’ Release

Israel and Palestinian militant group Hamas have reached a four-day truce, marking a crucial step toward de-escalation amid ongoing conflict.

The agreement for a temporary ceasefire aims to facilitate the release of approximately 50 hostages, who have been held in Gaza since Hamas’s raid on Israel on October 7th, Al Jazeera reports.

The terms of the truce, brokered through mediation by the United States, Qatar, and Egypt, outline a unique mechanism as it may be extended by one day for every additional 10 hostages released during the specified period.

In a reciprocal move, Israel has committed to suspending all military actions in Gaza for the duration of the truce. The agreement includes provisions for the entry of hundreds of trucks carrying essential humanitarian, medical, and fuel aid into the territory.

Palestinians look for survivors after an Israeli airstrike in Rafah refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, on October 12 2023. Credit: Shutterstock: Anas-Mohammed
Palestinians look for survivors after an Israeli airstrike in Rafah refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, on October 12 2023. Credit: Shutterstock: Anas-Mohammed

Gaza has been grappling with shortages, and this aid delivery is expected to alleviate some of the pressing concerns.

In a gesture towards reconciliation, Israel has also agreed to release 150 Palestinian women and children currently held in Israeli jails. This move aims to address a longstanding humanitarian issue and contribute to building trust between the conflicting parties.

The temporary truce and the associated agreements reflect a commitment from both sides to find a peaceful resolution and address immediate humanitarian needs in the region. The involvement of international mediators signals a broader effort to achieve stability and pave the way for more comprehensive negotiations in the future.

The agreement comes after weeks of negotiations between the warring parties, with the US, Egypt, and Qatar acting as mediators. US President Joe Biden welcomed the deal in a statement and said he would be speaking with leaders involved to ensure full implementation of the truce and coordinate efforts to extend it. The Israeli cabinet approved the deal after heated debates. According to officials, only three ministers out of 38 voted against the compromise agreement.

While paving the way for some captive releases, the temporary deal does not guarantee a longer cessation of hostilities. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asserted that Israel will continue its military campaign against Hamas after the truce period ends, until all its goals are achieved – including destroying Hamas’ capabilities and returning all hostages captured in the October 7th raid

The temporary reprieve would also permit entry of desperately needed fuel, food, medicine, and other humanitarian supplies into Gaza, where 1.7 million Palestinians have been displaced from their homes by bombs and shelling. Gaza’s infrastructure and essential services have been ravaged over six weeks of escalated Israeli airstrikes. 

Meanwhile, Hamas stated that one of the Israelis held captive since October has died while in captivity, a claim Israel said it could not confirm. There are believed to be a total of 237 captives from Israel and other countries still detained in Gaza. So far, Hamas has freed only 4 – an American mother and daughter, and 2 elderly Israeli women.

The coming days will indicate whether the truce will hold and lead to a more permanent ceasefire. Much depends on the successful release of captives by both sides and further high-level negotiations. But for now, the deal has opened a window for humanitarian relief and de-escalation after over a month of relentless violence that has claimed over 14,000 Palestinian lives.

Usair Arshad

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