Release of Israeli hostages held by Hamas faces delay

New Delhi, Nov 23: Tzachi Hanegbi, the head of Israel’s National Security Council, has stated that the release of Israeli hostages held by Hamas will not occur before Friday. In a statement released by the office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Hanegbi mentioned that negotiations for the hostages’ release are ongoing and progressing.

However, uncertainty emerged when Daniel Hagari, the chief spokesman for the Israeli military, indicated in a recent briefing that he was unaware of the timing of a potential ceasefire. The previous night, it was announced that Israel and Hamas had reached a deal to exchange 50 hostages held in Gaza for a four-day pause in hostilities.

The agreement also includes the release of 150 Palestinian women and children held in Israeli jails, along with an increase in humanitarian aid allowed into the region. Although Hamas initially declared a four-day pause starting at 10 am on Thursday, an Israeli source later informed the BBC of a setback, suggesting a significant delay, possibly exceeding 24 hours.

Conflicting reports surround the cause of the setback, with some sources claiming that Hamas has not ratified the ceasefire agreement. Other reports suggest that Hamas has not provided Israel with a list of hostages to be released on the first day, while logistical and transport issues are also mentioned. Despite these setbacks, media reports indicate that these issues are considered relatively minor and are expected to be resolved on Thursday, potentially putting the situation back on track by Friday.

The families of the hostages, waiting for nearly 50 days, had hoped for a moment of hope on Thursday. Meanwhile, families in Gaza insist that every captive “needs to come home,” but the UN’s Palestinian refugee agency, Unrwa, expresses dissatisfaction with the four-day pause, deeming it insufficient.

A queue of aid-carrying lorries at the Rafah crossing from Egypt into Gaza anticipates the pause in hostilities.
On the ground, Israel continues its ground and air operations in Gaza, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowing to achieve “absolute victory” over Hamas. Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant stated that Israel is gradually dismantling the military framework of Hamas.

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