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22 Nov, 2023 07:13

Moscow hails Israel-Hamas hostage deal

Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has commended Qatar’s mediation efforts
Moscow hails Israel-Hamas hostage deal

Russia welcomes the new agreement between Israel and Hamas, Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told the Izvestia newspaper on Wednesday. A four-day humanitarian pause will allow for the release of dozens of Israeli hostages and Palestinian prisoners.

Russia has consistently encouraged the two belligerents to sign a ceasefire, while urging Hamas to free its captives as soon as possible.

Praising the deal, Zakharova said it “is something that Russia was calling for since the start of the conflict.” She went on to commend “Qatar’s special efforts aimed at the practical implementation of the international community’s call for de-escalation.”

On Wednesday, after weeks of tense negotiations, Israel and Hamas reached a long-anticipated deal, according to which the Palestinian armed group would release at least 50 hostages – women and children, during a four-day pause which could be extended. The Office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pointed out that “the release of every additional ten hostages will result in one additional day in the pause.”

Qatar’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the deal would include “the release of a number of Palestinian women and children detained in Israeli prisons” adding that the number would be “increased in later stages of implementing the agreement.” Numerous media reports put the exact number at 150 people.

Qatar, which hosts Hamas’ political bureau and has played an instrumental role in the negotiations, added that the lull in the fighting would allow for a larger number of humanitarian convoys and relief aid to enter Gaza, which has been under siege by Israel in recent weeks.

Meanwhile, commenting on the agreement, Qatar’s lead negotiator Minister of State Mohammed Al-Khulaifi urged the international community to “seize this brief window of opportunity to generate further momentum for the diplomatic track,” according to CNN.

Hamas is currently holding around 240 hostages, having released only four since its October 7 surprise attack on Israel which claimed over 1,200 lives.