Israel's cabinet voted early on Wednesday to approve an agreement to secure the release of around 50 hostages who were abducted and taken into Gaza by Hamas when it attacked the Jewish nation on October 7. The deal was made to secure the hostages in exchange for a multi-day ceasefire, as per the Israeli media.
The details of the deal were not made public immediately. But an Israeli government official told reporters on Tuesday that the agreement could help to secure the release of 50 Israelis, mostly women and children, in groups of 12-13 people per day. Israeli ministers who participated in the cabinet meeting said the first release of hostages will take place on Thursday, the Israeli media reported.
According to the deal, Israel will allow the release of Palestinian women and children languishing in prisons and let them get back to their homes, mostly in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Israel has not revealed how many would be released but local media reports put the figure at 150.
Israel also agreed to permit additional fuel and large amounts of humanitarian aid into Gaza. Israel had blocked fuel and aid supplies to Gaza, fearing it could benefit Hamas, even as the besieged Palestinian enclave faced an unprecedented humanitarian crisis.
Hamas claims it holds 210 of around 240 hostages abducted, including 40 children. The Islamic Jihad, another Palestinian terror group, is believed to hold the remaining hostages.
For the first time since the war against Hamas began, Israel agreed to a ceasefire for four days, finally giving in after constant pressure from the international community.
Reports of the deal on securing the hostages in exchange for a ceasefire surfaced on Tuesday when Hamas and Israel said they were "close" to reaching an agreement. Qatar played a prominent role in brokering the talks on the hostages' deal.
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