Israeli government agrees temporary cease-fire and hostage-release deal with Hamas: reports – POLITICO

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The Israeli Cabinet voted overnight to accept a temporary cease-fire and prisoner-exchange deal with Hamas, according to local media reports.

Haaretz reports that under the deal, Hamas is expected to release 30 Israeli children and 20 women, of the around 240 hostages its militants kidnapped during their October 7 mass attack on Israel. In exchange, Israel would release 150 Palestinian prisoners being held in Israeli jails. An official told Haaretz that Hamas may also release foreign national hostages under deals reached with their countries.

Under the deal, which was brokered with officials from Qatar acting as intermediaries, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said hostages who are not released will receive medicine and be visited by the Red Cross.

The cease-fire is expected to last four or five days, according to reports. Netanyahu’s office also said that the release of every 10 additional hostages would see one additional day added to the pause in fighting.

However, Netanyahu dismissed the idea the fighting could halt for a longer term.

“There is nonsense out there suggesting that we will halt the war after the cease-fire to return the hostages,” he said at the beginning of the Cabinet meeting. “I would like to make it clear. We are at war, and we will continue the war until we achieve all our goals: eliminate Hamas, return all the hostages and missing, and guarantee that there will be no threat to Israel in Gaza.”

If the deal holds, it would be the first significant pause in the fighting since the war broke out after Hamas’ surprise attacks on October 7, which killed more than 1,200 people — most of whom were civilians — on Israeli soil.

Israel in retaliation imposed a full siege of the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, restricting access to food, water and fuel in the densely populated Palestinian enclave, home to about 2 million people.

Israel’s defense forces also launched thousands of airstrikes and a ground offensive on Gaza, killing over 12,700 people, mostly civilians, according to Hamas-run health authorities.

Negotiations for a deal, which had been going on for weeks, seemed near completion in recent days. Over the weekend, Qatar’s Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman al-Thani said the agreement just depended on “minor” logistical issues.

On Tuesday, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said the group was “close to reaching a truce agreement” with Israel, as Israeli forces advanced inside Gaza amid heavy fighting, Reuters reported.

Israel, meanwhile, was under mounting domestic pressure to secure the release of hostages held by Hamas. Netanyahu, who has faced criticism at home for failing to prevent the October 7 attacks and not doing enough to help free the captives, had met with some of the hostages’ families on Monday evening.

This article has been updated.

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