ZB ZB
Live now
Start time
Playing for
End time
Listen live
Listen to NAME OF STATION
Up next
Listen live on
ZB

Israel approves ceasefire with Hamas that includes release of at least 50 hostages

Publish Date
Wed, 22 Nov 2023, 2:37PM
Families and friends of about 240 hostages held by Hamas in Gaza calling for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to bring them home. Photo / AP
Families and friends of about 240 hostages held by Hamas in Gaza calling for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to bring them home. Photo / AP

Israel approves ceasefire with Hamas that includes release of at least 50 hostages

Publish Date
Wed, 22 Nov 2023, 2:37PM

Israel’s Cabinet has approved a ceasefire deal with the Hamas militant group that would bring a temporary halt to a devastating war that has stretched on for over six weeks.

Under the deal, Hamas is to free 50 of the roughly 240 hostages it is holding in the Gaza Strip over a four-day period, the Israeli Government said on Wednesday. It said it would extend the lull by an additional day for every 10 hostages released.

Ahead of Wednesday morning’s Cabinet vote, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel would resume its offensive against Hamas after the ceasefire expires.

It was not immediately clear when the truce would go into effect.

The Government said the first hostages to be released would be women and children.

The deal would temporarily halt the devastating six-week war and see dozens of hostages being held in Gaza released in exchange for Palestinians in Israeli prisons.

Families and friends of about 240 hostages held by Hamas in Gaza call for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to bring them home. Photo / AP
Families and friends of about 240 hostages held by Hamas in Gaza call for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to bring them home. Photo / AP

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened his Cabinet for a vote late Tuesday. The meeting stretched into the early hours of Wednesday, underscoring the sensitivity of a proposal that would suspend an Israeli offensive against Hamas before it has reached its goals.

Ahead of the vote, Netanyahu sought to assure his ministers that the break was only tactical, vowing to resume the offensive after the truce expires. Top security officials also attended the meeting.

“We are at war, and we will continue the war,” Netanyahu said. “We will continue until we achieve all our goals.”

Israel has vowed to continue the war until it destroys Hamas’ military capabilities and returns all hostages.

Families and friends of about 240 hostages held by Hamas in Gaza call for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to bring them home. Photo / AP
Families and friends of about 240 hostages held by Hamas in Gaza call for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to bring them home. Photo / AP

Netanyahu acknowledged that the Cabinet faced a tough decision, but supporting the ceasefire was the right thing to do. Netanyahu appeared to have enough support to pass the measure, despite opposition from some hard-line ministers.

Netanyahu said that during the lull, intelligence efforts will be maintained, allowing the army to prepare for the next stages of battle. He said the battle would continue until “Gaza will not threaten Israel”.

The announcement came as Israeli troops battled Palestinian militants in an urban refugee camp in northern Gaza and around hospitals overcrowded with patients and sheltering families.

Details of the expected ceasefire deal were not released. Israeli media reported that an agreement would include a five-day halt in Israel’s offensive in Gaza and the release of 50 hostages held by Hamas in exchange for some 150 Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.

A wounded Palestinian child is carried into the Nasser Hospital following an Israeli bombardment on Khan Younis refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip. Photo / AP
A wounded Palestinian child is carried into the Nasser Hospital following an Israeli bombardment on Khan Younis refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip. Photo / AP

Israel’s Channel 12 TV said the first releases would take place Thursday or Friday and continue for several days.

Talks have repeatedly stalled. But even if a deal is reached, it would not mean an end to the war, which erupted on October 7 after Hamas militants stormed across the border into southern Israel and killed at least 1,200 people, most of them civilians, and kidnapped some 240 others.

The toll in Gaza

In weeks of Israeli airstrikes and a ground invasion, more than 11,000 Palestinians have been killed, two-thirds of them women and minors, and more than 2,700 others are missing and believed to be buried under rubble, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry. The ministry says it has been unable to update its count since November 11 because of the health sector’s collapse.

Gaza health officials say the toll has risen sharply since, and hospitals continue to report deaths from daily strikes, often dozens at a time.

The Health Ministry in the West Bank last reported a toll of 13,300 but stopped providing its own count on Tuesday without giving a reason. Because of that, and because officials there declined to explain in detail how they tracked deaths after November 11, the AP decided to stop reporting its count.

Palestinians mourn their relatives killed in the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip, in the hospital in Khan Younis. Photo / AP
Palestinians mourn their relatives killed in the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip, in the hospital in Khan Younis. Photo / AP

The Health Ministry toll does not differentiate between civilians and combatants. Israel says it has killed thousands of Hamas militants but has not provided evidence for its count.

In southern Lebanon, an Israeli strike killed two journalists with Al-Mayadeen TV, according to the Hezbollah-allied Pan-Arab network and Lebanese officials. There was no immediate comment from the Israeli military. A separate Israeli drone strike in Lebanon killed four Hamas members, a Palestinian official and a Lebanon security official said.

The Israeli military has been trading fire almost daily across the border with Lebanon’s Hezbollah group and Palestinian militants since the outbreak of the war.

Take your Radio, Podcasts and Music with you