| 23 February 2024, Friday |

Gaza hostage release back on after aid row settled

A Gaza hostage release deal was back on track on Saturday night after a row over aid supplies to the north of the besieged enclave was resolved following mediation by Qatar and Egypt.

A Palestinian official familiar with the diplomacy said Hamas would continue with the four-day truce agreed with Israel, the first break in fighting in seven weeks of war.

“After a delay, obstacles to release of prisoners were overcome through Qatari-Egyptian contacts with both sides, and 39 Palestinian civilians will be released tonight, while 13 Israeli hostages will leave Gaza in addition to 7 foreigners,” Qatar’s foreign ministry spokesman Majed Al Ansari said on social media.

The armed wing of Hamas said earlier it was delaying Saturday’s scheduled second round of hostage releases until Israel met conditions including committing to let aid trucks into northern Gaza.

Hamas spokesperson Osama Hamdan said only 65 of 340 aid trucks that had entered Gaza since Friday had reached northern Gaza, which was “less than half of what Israel agreed on.”

Al-Qassam Brigades also said Israel had failed to respect the terms of the Palestinian prisoner releases. Qadura Fares, the Palestinian commissioner for prisoners, said Israel had not released detainees by seniority, as was expected.

  • Asharq Al-Awsat