Israel-Hamas temporary truce and hostage release set for Friday, cautious international optimism surfaces

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Tzachi Hanegbi

23rd November 2023 – (Tel Aviv) Israel’s national security adviser, Tzachi Hanegbi, affirmed that the liberation of hostages under a provisional ceasefire between Israel and Hamas will not commence until Friday. As the Head of Israel’s National Security Council, Hanegbi confirmed that discussions regarding the particulars of the agreement are currently in progress. “The (hostage) release will begin according to the original agreement, and not before Friday,” he clarified.

In the early hours of Wednesday, the Israeli government consented to a Qatar-mediated agreement with Hamas, which encompasses a temporary ceasefire and the release of hostages.

Hamas has acknowledged the agreement, terming it a “humanitarian truce” that would see the liberation of 150 Palestinian women and children detained in Israeli prisons.

Hostages will be freed in smaller cohorts over a period of four days, during which a cessation of hostilities will take place, stated an announcement from the office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The release of each subsequent batch of 10 hostages will extend the ceasefire by one day.

On Wednesday, Israel disclosed that it would recommence operations in the Gaza Strip immediately following the implementation of the new truce agreement for hostage release.

Eylon Levy, spokesperson for the Israeli government, during a press briefing, declared, “We are at war with Hamas, a war that was initiated with the October 7 Hamas massacre and that will continue”. Levy further stated that the conflict would resume “immediately” after the full execution of the truce deal and the planned release of hostages.

The truce mandates that both Israel and Hamas cease hostilities. The conflict has caused extensive destruction in Gaza, with entire neighbourhoods demolished by Israeli strikes. Official Palestinian figures report a death toll of approximately 14,532 individuals, primarily civilians. Israeli sources have recorded around 1,200 casualties, with a further 240 held hostage during the Hamas attacks in southern Israel that precipitated the conflict.

China, through Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning, has expressed support for the temporary ceasefire agreement, hoping it will alleviate the humanitarian crisis and de-escalate the situation.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, through his deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq, applauded the agreement, calling it “an important step in the right direction”.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, Qatar’s prime minister, voiced his hopes that the deal would lead to a lasting ceasefire and initiate “serious talks” towards resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Arab League (AL) Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul-Gheit also extended his welcome to the newly agreed humanitarian truce, expressing hope that it would evolve into a “comprehensive ceasefire”. Aboul-Gheit stressed the importance of a comprehensive political solution to the Palestinian issue based on the two-state solution as “the only way” to break the recurring cycles of violence in the Middle East.ShareRetry