Amidst ongoing conflict, extensive diplomatic efforts involving Qatar, Egypt, and the US culminated in a four-day ceasefire and an agreement for a hostage/prisoner exchange in Gaza.
Here’s everything you need to know.
Humanitarian truce conditions
On the military level:
The cessation of all hostilities from both sides.
A halt of all Israeli military actions in all areas of the Gaza Strip.
The cessation of Israeli military vehicle movement in the Gaza Strip.
A halt to Israeli military overflights in the southern Gaza Strip for four consecutive days.
Israeli military overflights in the northern Gaza Strip will be limited to six hours daily.
On the humanitarian level:
Hundreds of trucks carrying humanitarian, relief, and medical aid will reach all areas of the Gaza Strip without exception.
Fuel deliveries will be allowed into the Gaza Strip.
On the prisoners exchange:
50 captives will be released from the Gaza Strip.
In exchange, 150 Palestinian prisoners will be released from Israeli prisons.
The Qatari Foreign Ministry announced that a humanitarian pause has been agreed in Gaza. It said: “Qatar announces the success of its joint mediation efforts undertaken with the Arab Republic of Egypt and the United States of America between Israel and the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas), resulting in an agreement for a humanitarian pause. The starting time of the pause will be announced within the next 24 hours and last for four days, subject to extension.”
The humanitarian truce “includes the release of 50 civilian women and children hostages currently held in the Gaza Strip in exchange for the release of a number of Palestinian women and children detained in Israeli prisons, the number of those released will be increased in later stages of implementing the agreement.”
The agreement will also “allow the entry of a larger number of humanitarian convoys and relief aid, including fuel designated for humanitarian needs.”
Israeli President Isaac Herzog expressed support for the hostage agreement: “It is a moral and ethical duty that correctly expresses the Jewish and Israeli value of redeeming captives, and I hope that it will be a significant first step for bringing all the captives home. The State of Israel, [Israeli army] and security forces will continue to act in all ways to achieve this goal, along with restoring complete security to Israeli citizens.”
The office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated: “The Government has approved the outline of the first stage of achieving this goal, according to which at least 50 hostages – women and children – will be released over four days, during which a pause in the fighting will be held. The release of every additional ten hostages will result in one additional day in the pause.”
It added: “The Government of Israel, the [Israeli army] and the security services will continue the war in order to return home all of the hostages, complete the elimination of Hamas and ensure that there will be no new threat to the State of Israel from Gaza.”
Netanyahu, however, said: “I didn’t want to in all honesty.”
Hamas said it welcomed the humanitarian truce which provided for the freeing of hostages held by the militant group in Gaza in exchange for the release of Palestinian prisoners.
“The provisions of this agreement were formulated according to the vision of the resistance and its determinants that aim to serve our people and enhance their steadfastness in the face of aggression,” Hamas said in a statement.
Hamas listed the main conditions under which the truce was agreed: “A ceasefire by both parties, a cessation of all military actions by the Israeli army in all areas of the Gaza Strip, and a cessation of the movement of its military vehicles penetrating into the Gaza Strip. Allowing the entry of hundreds of trucks of humanitarian aid, medicine and fuel into all areas of the Gaza Strip without exception, in the north and south. The release of 50 women and children detained by Israel in exchange for the released of 150 women and children from Israeli prisoners.”
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Washington welcomes the deal to release 50 hostages held by Hamas.
“Today’s outcome is the result of tireless diplomacy and relentless effort across the Department and broader United States government. I appreciate the leadership and ongoing partnership of Egypt and Qatar in this work. I also thank the government of Israel for supporting a humanitarian pause that will facilitate the transfer of hostages to safety and allow additional humanitarian assistance to reach Palestinian civilians in Gaza,” Blinken said in a statement.
He added: “While this deal marks significant progress, we will not rest as long as Hamas continues to hold hostages in Gaza. My highest priority is the safety and security of Americans overseas, and we will continue our efforts to secure the release of every hostage and their swift reunification with their families.”
US President Joe Biden thanked Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad and President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi of Egypt for their critical leadership and partnership in reaching this deal.
He said: “I appreciate the commitment that Prime Minister Netanyahu and his government have made in supporting an extended pause to ensure this deal can be fully carried out and to ensure the provision of additional humanitarian assistance to alleviate the suffering of innocent Palestinian families in Gaza. I look forward to speaking with each of these leaders and staying in close contact as we work to ensure this deal is carried through in its entirety. It is important that all aspects of this deal be fully implemented.”
Egypt announced the success of the joint mediation with the US and Qatar, which resulted in reaching a humanitarian truce in the Gaza Strip. Cairo affirmed its continued follow-up to the implementation of the humanitarian truce agreement and the exchange of prisoners and detainees, as reported by Ahram Gate.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi called on the international community to pressure Israel to implement United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 2712, which was adopted on 15 November. He affirmed Egypt’s support for international efforts to reach a ceasefire and protect civilians in the Gaza Strip, foremost of which is the UNSC resolution calling for truces and humanitarian corridors across the strip.
“He emphasized that the international community bears a humanitarian and political responsibility to save Gazan civilians and to stop these inhuman practices, which force people to leave their homes and lands,” according to Ahram Gate.