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Israeli gov’t approves deal to free 50 hostages in exchange for 4-day pause in fighting

First hostages expected to be freed over the weekend, Palestinian prisoner release also part of the deal

Israelis attend a rally calling for the release of Israelis held kidnapped by Hamas terrorists in Gaza at "Hostage Square" in Tel Aviv, Nov. 18, 2023. (Photo: Miriam Alster/Flash90)

The Israeli government approved a deal for Hamas to release 50 of the 240 hostages thought to currently be held captive in Gaza, in exchange for a four-day pause in fighting in the ongoing war.

The government confirmed the details of the agreement negotiated with the Hamas terror organization through American and Qatari mediation during a meeting that began Tuesday night and stretched into the early morning.

An Israeli government official briefing reporters on Tuesday said the deal was expected to see the release of 50 living Israeli citizens – children, mothers and other women – in groups of 12-13 people over four days, according to the Times of Israel.

In addition to the four-day pause, for the first time since the outbreak of the war, Israel has agreed to release 150 teenage and female Palestinian security prisoners.

The pause in fighting could be extended by one additional day for each additional group of 10 Israeli hostages released from Gaza, after which Israel’s campaign to destroy Hamas in Gaza will resume.

“Tonight, 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,” the government said in a statement.

“The Government of Israel, the IDF 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.”

Prior to the meeting, members of the Israeli political parties, Religious Zionism and Jewish Power, warned they would vote against the deal.

In the end, Religious Zionism Knesset members said they were convinced by the prime minister and security officials to approve the deal.

“I voted for it even though I really didn’t plan to,” said National Missions Minister Orit Strock.

"The plan for the release of the hostages is one of the achievements of the war: This is my conclusion in light of detailed reviews, questions that were answered in-depth, and a review of the list of terrorists to be released,” she said.

The Jewish Power party, led by National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir, voted against the deal.

Israel’s President Isaac Herzog said he supported the decision.

“The reservations are understandable, painful, and difficult, but given the circumstances I back and support the decision of the Prime Minister and the Government to move forward with the deal to release hostages.”

“This is a moral and ethical duty that correctly expresses the Jewish and Israeli value of securing the freedom of those held captive, with the hope that it will be the first step in returning all the hostages home. The State of Israel, the IDF, and all the security forces will continue to act in every way possible to achieve this goal, alongside the restoration of the absolute security of the citizens of Israel,” Herzog added.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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