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Israel, Gaza Begin Four-Day Ceasefire Today

A four-day pause in the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza will begin this morning and an exchange of hostages will follow hours later, the mediator, Qatar, has confirmed.

The ceasefire deal, facilitated by Qatar with help of Egypt and the United States, was due to take effect Thursday, but was delayed after a last-minute hitch. 

The ceasefire deal followed weeks of war in the Gaza Strip after Hamas fighters broke through the militarised Gaza border with Israel on October 7 in an attack.

Israeli airstrikes and ground invasions had since then reportedly killed over 14,000 Palestinians, mostly women and children, and forced about 1.7 million Gazans to flee their homes.

The Israeli government had said about 1,200 of its nationals, mostly civilians, were killed and around 240 taken hostage.

The “surprise operation” from Gaza came on the heels of the killing of four Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, widespread Israeli settler attacks, especially in Huwara, near Nablus and increased tensions at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem.

Hamas, the group running the besieged enclave, had explained that its surprise, large-scale operation was in response to the desecration of Al-Aqsa Mosque and increased settler violence.

Confirming the four-day ceasefire at a press conference in Doha yesterday, Qatari Foreign Ministry’s spokesperson, Majed Al Ansari: “The pause will begin at 7:00 am (0500 GMT) on Friday and the first batch of civilian hostages will be handed over at approximately 4:00 pm (1400 GMT).”

He stated that 13 people would be freed initially, all women and children from the same families.

He said Palestinians held in Israeli jails would also be released today, noting that a list of unspecified number of inmate names had been approved.

Ansari said: “The skies will be clear” of drones for a period of time to “allow for the hostage release to happen in a safe environment”.

“Obviously every day will include a number of civilians as agreed to total 50 within the four days,” the Qatari spokesperson said.

“During these four days, information will be collected about the rest of the hostages to consider the possibility of more releases and thus extending the pause,” he added.

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Seun Akin

Seun Johnson is a professional journalist and proficient media strategist with over 10 years of consistent work experience. He is Verse in content creation and versatile in editorial administration with a deep knowledge in digital, print and broadcast journalism.

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