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Israel and Hamas Agree to Four-Day Truce, Release of Hostages

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In a significant development amid the Israel-Hamas conflict, both parties have agreed to a four-day truce, with Hamas committing to releasing at least 50 Israeli and foreign hostages taken during the October 7 attacks. The announcement came after a lengthy session in which Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet granted approval, deeming it a challenging yet necessary decision.

Under the terms of the agreement, the truce will involve a temporary cessation of military operations, providing a much-needed break for Gaza residents who have endured almost seven weeks of intense conflict. For every additional 10 hostages released, an extra day of truce will be added.

Hamas, in a statement, expressed its support for the “humanitarian truce,” revealing that it would also lead to the release of 150 Palestinians from Israeli jails. The negotiation, facilitated with the assistance of Qatar, brings a glimmer of hope to the Gaza Strip, offering a respite from the ongoing war.

The Israeli cabinet’s endorsement was crucial for the truce to take effect, overcoming internal dissent within Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition. Some members expressed concerns that the agreement might concede too much to Hamas, the group responsible for the attacks on October 7, resulting in the capture of 240 hostages.

The Hamas assaults triggered Israel’s “Operation Swords of Iron,” a relentless air and ground campaign on Hamas-run Gaza. Palestinian authorities report a devastating toll, with over 14,100 casualties, predominantly women and children.

Despite reservations from within Netanyahu’s coalition, the desperate pleas from families wanting their loved ones back and the intense public concern over the hostages’ fate swayed the government’s decision.

Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant reassured the public that the truce did not mark the end of the broader military operations. He emphasized that once the current phase concluded, security operations would resume in full force.

Netanyahu’s office released a statement underscoring that the truce did not signify the end of the war. It affirmed Israel’s commitment to retrieving all kidnapped individuals, eliminating Hamas, and ensuring that Gaza no longer posed a threat to the state.

Gazans, who have endured severe bombing and ground offensives, are cautiously optimistic about the temporary ceasefire. Residents hope that this respite will lead to longer truces or even a complete cessation of hostilities.

As large parts of Gaza lie in ruins from thousands of air strikes, the proposed truce includes provisions for up to 300 trucks of food and medical aid to enter the territory, providing some relief to the besieged population.

International pressure for a humanitarian ceasefire has intensified, with the BRICS group, including Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, calling for an immediate and sustained truce during a recent virtual summit. The summit’s chair, South Africa, accused Israel of war crimes and “genocide,” while Chinese President Xi Jinping demanded the release of civilian detainees and a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.

The unfolding situation continues to be closely monitored, with hopes that the agreed truce will pave the way for further diplomatic initiatives to bring lasting peace to the region.

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