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The deal is back on: The pause in fighting begins Friday morning, hostages to be released at 4 p.m.

Israel and Hamas confirm official announcement by Qatari mediators

A wall with pictures of Israelis held captive by Hamas terrorists in Gaza at the "Hostage Square" in Tel Aviv, November 23, 2023. (Photo: Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

After a surprising late-night delay on Wednesday and feverish negotiations throughout Thursday, the deal to release Israeli hostages in exchange for a four-day pause in fighting and up to 150 Palestinian prisoners is set for implementation on Friday, Qatari spokesman Majid al-Ansari said.

The spokesman for the Foreign Ministry of Qatar, the main mediator of the deal, announced on Thursday afternoon that the last-minute obstacles that sprung up the night before were cleared and the fighting in Gaza will stop at 7 a.m. on Friday.

The release of 13 Israeli hostages will then commence at 4 p.m. with all of them being released at the same time.

“Israel confirms that a preliminary list of names has been received,” the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) announced. “The appointed officials are checking the details of the list and are in contact with all the families at these moments.”

Shortly after, the PMO reiterated that the families of the hostages were notified if their loved ones appeared on the list, or not. This is contrary to earlier official statements saying that the families would be notified only after the identity of the released hostages was physically verified upon their return.

An Israeli official also confirmed that the pause in fighting would begin at 7 a.m., according to Army Radio.

A Hamas spokesman further confirmed the statement by the Qatari Foreign Ministry and also disclosed further details of the agreement.

According to the deal, four fuel trucks will enter the Gaza Strip every day for the four days that the hostages will be released, as well as 200 trucks with humanitarian aid and cooking gas.

In addition, Israel agreed not to collect aerial intelligence in the northern Gaza Strip between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., and to cease any aerial activity in the southern part of Gaza.

The Qatari spokesman expressed hope that the pause in fighting would be extended, as Hamas would use those days to collect more information about the hostages with the hope that more hostages would be released.

He also spoke about the reasons for the delay, explaining that a mechanism to execute the agreement had not yet been agreed upon.

Regarding Israel's release of up to 150 Palestinian prisoners, Army Radio reported that this is expected to happen only after the Israeli hostages were received and identified on Friday evening.

The prisoners to be released will be concentrated in one prison, from where a Red Cross transport will take them to a checkpoint at the West Bank border. Prisoners from East Jerusalem will be released there.

Israel Defense Forces troops were instructed not to allow large-scale celebrations by families and neighbors upon the return of prisoners and will deploy soldiers to enforce this policy.

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

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