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Qatar: Truce starts Friday, 13 hostages to be freed in first batch

The ceasefire will take effect at 7 a.m., Doha said.

Israelis at Habimah Square in Tel Aviv walk by beds representing the number of hostages held captive by Hamas terrorists in the Gaza Strip, Nov. 11, 2023. Photo by Miriam Alster/Flash90.
Israelis at Habimah Square in Tel Aviv walk by beds representing the number of hostages held captive by Hamas terrorists in the Gaza Strip, Nov. 11, 2023. Photo by Miriam Alster/Flash90.

The ceasefire between Israel and the Hamas terror organization will go into effect at 7 a.m. on Friday, a spokesperson for Qatar’s foreign ministry said during a press conference in Doha on Thursday.

Hamas has agreed to release the first 13 hostages at 4 p.m. on Friday, spokesman Majed Al Ansari announced.

“They will be 13 in number, all women and children, and those hostages who are from the same families will be put together within the same batch,” said Al Ansari.

“The communications that took place and the meetings that took place all through yesterday went on until early morning today with the Egyptians and the parties of the conflict present here in Doha,” he added.

Immediately after the announcement from Doha, Prime Minister Netanyahu confirmed that Israel had received a preliminary list of names. Jerusalem was checking the document and contacting the families of the hostages, the Prime Minister’s Office said.

Brig. Gen. Gal Hirsch, Israel’s coordinator for the captives and missing, in a statement sent out by the Prime Minister’s Office, said that liaison officers reached out to the families whose loved ones appear on the list, as well as to the families of the other hostages.

Hirsch called on the media not to publish the list of names until the hostages are back in Israel, and urged the public to refrain from spreading unconfirmed reports.

An Israeli official told AFP early on Thursday that there would be no halt to combat operations in the Gaza Strip before Friday, after Israeli National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi announced shortly after midnight that the agreement would take effect a day later than expected.

“The start of the release will take place according to the original agreement between the sides, and not before Friday,” read Hanegbi’s statement while noting that “the contacts on the release of our hostages are advancing and continuing constantly.”

The Israeli Cabinet on Wednesday voted to approve a deal with Hamas to see 50 of the approximately 240 hostages held by the terrorist group in Gaza freed in exchange for a four-day truce.

The release of every additional 10 hostages will result in one additional day in the pause in combat.

The expected truce includes a “comprehensive” ceasefire in both the north and south of the Strip, Qatar said on Thursday.

During the ceasefire, Israel will refrain from using surveillance drones in Gaza for six hours a day. The IDF will reportedly also allow fuel to enter Gaza during that time and dramatically increase the volume of goods permitted into the Strip.

In addition to the ceasefire, Israel agreed to commute the sentences of 150 female and teenage Palestinian security prisoners held in Israeli jails. They will be allowed to return to their previous places of residence.

Many of the terrorists set to be released are affiliated with Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine terrorist groups.

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