Israel and Hamas agreed to a four day truce early on Wednesday as part of an agreement that will see the Palestinian group release 50 Israeli women and child prisoners in exchange for 150 Palestinian women and children held in Israeli jails.
The prime minister’s office said in a statement that for every additional 10 hostages released the pause would be extended by a day. The statement did not mention the release of Palestinian prisoners in exchange.
The Israeli cabinet backed the agreement after hours-long talks, which reportedly involved heated exchanges between ministers from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government.
“The Israeli government is committed to bringing all the abductees home. Tonight, the government approved the outline for the first stage of achieving this goal, under which at least 50 abductees – women and children – will be released over a span of four days, during which there will be a lull in the fighting,” the statement said.
Hamas, which controls Gaza, also released a statement, confirming that 50 women and children held in the territory would be freed in exchange for Israel releasing 150 Palestinian women and children from Israeli jails.
It said that during the temporary pause, Israel would stop all military actions in Gaza and only carry out drone flights over northern Gaza for six hours a day, from 10 am-4pm.
The pause would also allow hundreds of trucks carrying humanitarian, medical and fuel aid into the territory, it said.
Of the roughly 240 Israeli prisoners taken to Gaza by Hamas and other armed groups on 7 October, 33 were children, the youngest of whom was reportedly nine months old at the time of the attack, according to the Israeli government.
According to an organisation formed by the hostages’ families, at least 62 of the prisoners were women. Four of the women are serving Israeli soldiers, according to interviews with their families and information gathered by a forum of the hostages’ families.
The Israelis were seized on 7 October when Palestinian fighters launched attacks into Israel that killed around than 1,200 people.
More than 14,000 people have been killed as part of Israel’s retaliatory bombardment and invasion, according to Palestinian officials.
Meanwhile, the Palestinian prisoners’ rights NGO, Addameer, has said that 200 children have been arrested by Israeli forces since 7 October.
Many of the most recent arrests came during raids across the occupied West Bank, where attacks on Palestinians by Israeli soliders and settlers have surged.
For days, officials from Qatar, the United States, Israel and Hamas have been suggesting a deal was imminent.
Qatar, which hosts a Hamas political office at the request of the US, issued a statement early on Wednesday confirming the “success” of its mediation efforts and the broad parameters of the agreement.
“The starting time of the pause will be announced within the next 24 hours and last for four days, subject to extension,” the statement said.