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Surprise delay in hostage deal, no release ‘before Friday’

The pause in fighting was delayed as negotiations not finalized, no lull in Gaza fighting

Israelis visit "Hostage Square" in Tel Aviv, November 18, 2023. (Photo: Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Israeli hostages won’t be released on Thursday, contrary to earlier reports that the deal between Israel and Hamas terrorists was set to be implemented at 10 a.m., Israeli Security Advisor Tzachi Hanegbi said in a late-night statement on Wednesday.

“The negotiations for the release of our abductees are progressing and continuing all the time. The release will begin according to the original agreement between the parties, and not before Friday,” the statement read.

Israel doesn’t expect the delay to lead to a breakdown of the talks at this stage, Israel's Kan news outlet reported.

Israeli ministers were told that the deal would go ahead on Thursday morning but Hamas officials reportedly had not signed the final agreement yet. A Qatari source told Palestinian newspaper al-Quds that a last-minute “difference of opinion” was to blame for the delay.

An Israeli official told local Channel 13 news that he was “optimistic” an agreement would be reached but couldn’t give an exact time yet.

The mediating parties in Qatar and the United States also sounded a positive note, with the White House expressing its hope that “implementation will begin on Friday morning.”

The start date of the deal would be announced “in the next few hours,” a Qatari spokesperson said, adding, “The discussions on the details… are proceeding in a positive manner.”

Meanwhile, the fighting in Gaza recommenced as usual, with one Israeli official telling Army Radio: “Until the first hostages return, there is no ceasefire, there is fire.”

The main reason for the delay was the insistence of Hamas on conditions that were unacceptable to Israel, an Israeli official said.

Israel also has not yet received a complete list of the 50 hostages that will be freed over the four-day pause in fighting.

While Hamas provided some of the names, as well as the gender and nationality of most of the 50 hostages, it didn’t specify the condition of some of them.

The terror organization also didn’t officially sign off on the mechanism of the hostages’ release, the Wall Street Journal reported.

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

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