Israel approves hostage deal with Hamas – media
The Israeli government has voted to accept a deal for a temporary ceasefire in Gaza, during which some hostages held by Hamas militants will be exchanged for Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, local media reported early Wednesday morning.
The Israeli cabinet’s decision was backed by all branches of the Israeli security services – the IDF, Shin Bet, and Mossad – a senior Israeli official told Haaretz.
The Palestinian militants are expected to release around 50 Israeli women and children once a pause in the fighting commences, Reuters reports. The first hostages may be released as soon as Thursday, unless the Supreme Court challenges the agreement and blocks the release of Palestinian prisoners.
Israel is set to publish a list of the Palestinian prisoners set for release, and the public will have 24 hours to file their objections. The list will reportedly include some 150 Palestinians, mostly women and children, none of whom are accused of killing Israelis.
The temporary ceasefire could be extended further if Hamas frees more women and children, or “by a day for each group of 10 more Israeli hostages,” according to the Times of Israel.
Ahead of the vote, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the ministers that accepting the deal was “a difficult decision but it’s a right decision,” and vowed that Israel would continue its war with Hamas after the temporary truce.
“We are at war, and we will continue the war,” Netanyahu said. “We will continue until we achieve all our goals.”
Hours before the cabinet meeting, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh confirmed that the group was “close to reaching a truce agreement” with Israel, while US President Joe Biden told reporters that all parties involved were “very close, very close” to a deal.
Hamas fighters took around 240 hostages to Gaza during their October 7 assault on Israel, and have since released only four of these captives. The welfare of the hostages has been a major concern for the Israeli public, who fear that the captives may be harmed during the Israel Defense Forces’ ongoing air and ground operation in the enclave, or executed in response to the Israeli attacks.