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Truce deal raises hopes of liberating hostages in Gaza and halting worst Mideast violence in a long time

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JERUSALEM — Israel and Hamas have reached an settlement for a four-day halt to the devastating struggle in Gaza, accompanied by the discharge of dozens of hostages held by the militant group in return for Palestinian prisoners jailed by Israel, mediators stated Wednesday.

The truce marks the largest diplomatic breakthrough since Hamas’ Oct. 7 rampage into southern Israel ignited a struggle that has devastated huge swaths of Gaza and raised fears of a wider battle throughout the Center East.

The Persian Gulf nation of Qatar, which has performed a key position in mediating with Hamas, introduced the deal with out saying when it will go into impact. Fifty hostages might be launched in phases, in trade for what Hamas stated can be 150 Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.

Each side will launch girls and kids first, and the availability of humanitarian help flowing into the besieged territory might be ramped up, officers stated.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s workplace confirmed that Israel’s Cupboard had authorized the deal following a six-hour assembly that stretched into Wednesday morning, however made no point out of the discharge of Palestinian prisoners or elevated humanitarian help.

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Netanyahu additionally stated the struggle in opposition to Hamas would resume after the truce expires.

“We’re at struggle, and we’ll proceed the struggle,” he stated. “We’ll proceed till we obtain all our objectives.”

The announcement capped weeks of oblique Qatari-led negotiations between Israel and Hamas, an Islamic militant group that has dominated Gaza for 16 years. The USA and Egypt have been additionally concerned in stop-and-go talks to free among the roughly 240 hostages captured by Hamas and different militants through the Oct. 7 raid.

President Joe Biden welcomed the deal, saying Netanyahu has dedicated to supporting an “prolonged pause” to ensure that the hostages are launched and humanitarian help could be despatched to Gaza.

Qatar’s prime minister and prime diplomat, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, stated he hoped the deal would finally result in a everlasting cease-fire and “severe talks” on resolving the Israeli-Palestinian battle.

Israel stated that the truce can be prolonged an additional day for each further 10 hostages launched by Hamas. The Worldwide Committee of the Purple Cross stated it’s standing by to help any swap.

As the total extent of the devastation turns into recognized and as hostages are launched, stress may develop on Israel to finish its struggle with out reaching its objective of crushing Hamas.

Regardless of the huge destruction throughout Gaza and the killing of 1000’s of Palestinian civilians, Hamas will seemingly current the discharge of the prisoners as a serious achievement and declare victory if the struggle ends with out eradicating it from energy.

In a press release Wednesday, Hamas stated a whole lot of vehicles carrying humanitarian help — together with gasoline — can be allowed to enter Gaza. It stated Israeli plane would cease flying over southern Gaza at some point of the four-day cease-fire and for six hours every day within the north.

The struggle erupted in early October, when a number of thousand Hamas militants broke via Israel’s formidable defenses and poured into the south, killing not less than 1,200 folks, largely civilians, and capturing scores extra. Israel responded with weeks of devastating airstrikes on Gaza, adopted by a floor invasion.

Greater than 11,000 Palestinians have been killed through the Israeli offensive, in accordance with the Well being Ministry within the Hamas-run territory. It doesn’t differentiate between civilians and militants, although some two-thirds of the {dead} have been recognized as girls and minors.

The invasion has prompted huge destruction in northern Gaza, together with Gaza Metropolis, displaced over 1.7 million folks and prompted extreme shortages of meals, drugs and different fundamentals all through the territory. Israel minimize off all gasoline imports initially of the struggle, inflicting a territory-wide energy blackout.

Israel has rejected rising worldwide criticism and vowed to press forward till it destroys Hamas’ navy and governing capabilities and all hostages are freed.

The return of hostages may carry spirits in Israel, the place the plight of the captives has gripped the nation. Airwaves are stuffed with interviews with households of the hostages, who embrace infants and toddlers, girls and kids, and folks of their 80s with well being points.

The households have turn out to be a strong drive in Israel, staging mass demonstrations and marches pressuring the federal government to carry house their family members.

The construction of the deal may restrict Israel’s means to press its offensive, even after the truce expires.

Any pause would give Hamas and its shadowy chief, Yehya Sinwar, an opportunity to regroup after struggling heavy losses, particularly if Hamas drags issues out with further hostage releases.

Israel claims to have killed 1000’s of Hamas fighters, although it has not offered proof, and destroyed elements of the group’s underground tunnel system. However Israeli officers acknowledge a lot of Hamas’ infrastructure stays intact.

A cease-fire may additionally add to the already rising worldwide stress on Israel to halt its offensive as the total extent of injury in Gaza turns into obvious. Even the U.S., Israel’s chief backer, has expressed considerations in regards to the heavy toll on Gaza’s civilian inhabitants.

Some three-quarters of Gaza’s inhabitants has been uprooted from their houses, with most packing into overcrowded and unsanitary shelters.

Many, if not most, might be unable to return house due to the huge harm within the north and the continued presence of Israeli troops there. That would result in an excellent worse humanitarian catastrophe because the chilly, wet winter units in.

In Israel, the staggered hostage releases may divide the households of those that are free of those that stay in captivity. Troopers are more likely to be the final to be freed, and their households might press the federal government to not resume the offensive till their family members return house.

“There are a lot of households and plenty of opinions,” Hadas Kalderon, whose two younger youngsters have been kidnapped with their father, advised Israel’s Channel 12 TV.

A prolonged truce may additionally have an effect on Israel’s battle readiness. Whereas Israeli troops are anticipated to stay in place, it is going to be troublesome and dangerous for the military to depart its forces stationary behind enemy traces.

Iran-backed armed teams throughout the Center East have been drawn into the struggle, with Lebanon’s Hezbollah buying and selling fireplace with Israel each day alongside the border and Yemen’s Houthi rebels launching drones and missiles in addition to seizing an Israeli-linked cargo ship.

Violence has additionally soared within the Israeli-occupied West Financial institution, the place greater than 200 Palestinians have been killed, primarily throughout gunbattles triggered by Israeli military raids.

On Tuesday, Gaza’s Well being Ministry stated that as of Nov. 11 it had misplaced the flexibility to rely the {dead} due to the collapse of huge elements of the well being system.

It believes the precise loss of life toll has risen sharply above the official variety of 11,000. Some 2,700 individuals are lacking and believed to be buried underneath rubble, and hospitals have continued to report deaths from every day strikes, typically dozens at a time.

The Israeli navy says 68 troopers have been killed within the floor offensive.


Goldenberg reported from Tel Aviv, Israel and Magdy from Cairo. Related Press reporters Najib Jobain in Khan Younis, Gaza Strip; Wafaa Shurafa in Deir al-Balah, Gaza Strip; and Jon Gambrell in Dubai, United Arab Emirates contributed.


Full AP protection at https://apnews.com/hub/israel-hamas-war.

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