The bombardment of Gaza has continued in the hours prior to the truce’s announcement.
Qatar has announced a four-day “humanitarian pause” in Gaza on Wednesday as part of a deal that includes the release of 50 Israeli civilian women and children hostages from Hamas, in exchange for the release of an unspecified number of Palestinian women and children in Israeli prisons.
Qatar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced the major breakthrough today. “The State of Qatar announces the success of its joint mediation efforts undertaken with the Arab Republic of Egypt and the United States of America between Israel and the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas), resulting in an agreement for a humanitarian pause,” the statement read.
“The starting time of the pause will be announced within the next 24 hours and last for four days, subject to extension,” it also added.
The temporary truce comes following 46 days of relentless Israeli bombardment of the besieged Gaza Strip, where the occupation forces killed at least 14,100 Palestinians, though the true number is estimated to be much higher, including 5,840 children, according to The Defense for Children International.
The Palestinian Ministry of Health said its count is outdated given Israeli strikes on communication towers and people have not yet been pulled from the rubble.
Apart from the hostages’ release, the Qatar-mediated agreement also entails the entry of “a larger number of humanitarian convoys and relief aid, including fuel designated for humanitarian needs” as the Strip suffers from a dire humanitarian catastrophe under the complete Israeli siege.
Under the deal, Hamas would release 50 civilian women and children hostages held in Gaza, which it had captured during the October 7 operation, known as “Al Aqsa Flood.” There are around 242 captives currently in Gaza.
However, the release of the hostages would only come in exchange for the release of a number of Palestinian women and child detainees behind Israeli bars. The Qatari statement added that the total “of those released will be increased in later stages of implementing the agreement.”
There are at least 2,070 administrative detainees and 200 child prisoners behind Israeli bars, according to Ramallah-based Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association.
Administrative detention refers to those detained and kept in Israeli prisons without charge and access to legal defence.
In a post on X, Qatar’s Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani thanked Egypt and the U.S. for their joint efforts in reaching the truce.
“We thank our partners who contributed to reaching the humanitarian pause agreement in Gaza, particularly the U.S. & Egypt. We hope that it will establish a comprehensive & sustainable agreement that will put an end to the war & the bloodshed, & lead to serious talks for a comprehensive & just peace process in accordance with international legitimacy resolutions,” he said.
U.S. President Joe Biden also welcomed the deal in a post on X and thanked Qatar’s Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani and Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi “for their critical partnership.”
“From the earliest moments of Hamas’s brutal assault — my team and I have worked closely with regional partners to do everything possible to secure the release of our fellow citizens. Today’s deal will bring home more American hostages,” he said.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken also welcomed the deal, which he said is a result of “tieless diplomacy”.
“I cannot imagine the ordeal that each of these individuals has endured over the past few weeks, and I am thankful that they will be reunited with their loved ones soon. Today’s outcome is the result of tireless diplomacy and relentless effort across the Department and broader United States government,” Blinken said in a statement published by the State Department.
Qatar, the host of a Hamas political bureau, has been at the forefront of the captives’ release negotiations since the beginning of the escalations in Gaza. Though there is no officially disclosed number, Hamas has said that at least 150 Palestinian prisoners will be released.
In an interview with Sky News on October 25, Qatar’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr. Mohammed Al Khulaifi said Doha had received calls “from the first hour” from a number of countries seeking its help to secure their citizens’ release.
In October, Qatar mediated the release of four captives before the negotiations stalled under the non-stop Israeli bombardment of the besieged Gaza Strip.
Meanwhile, the bombardment of Gaza has continued in the hours prior to the truce’s announcement.
On Tuesday night, Israeli occupation forces (IOF) killed at least 15 people, mostly women and children, during the bombardment of Hamad City, west of Khan Yunis, the Palestinian news agency (Wafa) reported.
The IOF has also been carrying out deadly raids in the West Bank since the start of the war, the latest of which took place on Tuesday in the east of Qalqilya. During the raid, the IOF killed a man identified as 30-year-old Amir Abdel Rahman Majd, who was a public transport driver.
The West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem have witnessed a major detainment campaign by the IOF since the beginning of the war, with at least 3,000 Palestinians detained since last month.