The Israeli bombings on the Gaza Strip have not ceased this Wednesday, despite the announcement of an agreement between Israel and Hamas to stop hostilities for four days, in which the armed group will hand over 50 Israeli hostages that it has held since on October 7 and Israel will release 150 Palestinian prisoners imprisoned in that country.
However, it is not yet known when the ceasefire, which implies a commitment by both sides not to attack the other, will come into force. The Palestinian militias in the Strip have taken advantage of the last few hours by launching numerous projectiles against Israeli territory in a message of defiance and strength and have caused the anti-aircraft sirens to sound again in several towns near Gaza and also in the north of Israel, where have been sounded by rockets launched from southern Lebanon.
The Israeli Army calls the truce an “operational pause” and confirmed this afternoon that it had not yet received the details of the agreement and the order on when the truce comes into force. Army spokesman Daniel Hagari has said the release of the hostages is a complicated process that has to be completed and can take time.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated in a press conference this Wednesday that “the war continues” until “complete victory is achieved.” He has also thanked the US for its role in the negotiations and has pointed out that the path to the release of at least 50 hostages is due to “military pressure against Hamas” and, secondly, political pressure. Netanyahu has called the agreement “the right decision.”
The director of the Israeli intelligence agency, the Mossad, traveled to Doha this Wednesday to meet with the Qatari prime minister and discuss the final details of the hostage agreement, according to local press.
The Lebanese Shiite group Hizbullah has said that it will adhere to the four-day truce, which would mean a temporary cessation of the attacks that it has been launching against Israel for six weeks from the other side of the border shared by the two archenemies – who faced each other in a direct war in 2006.
The Israeli Army has not stopped its military operations in Gaza either, both on the ground and the bombing by fighter planes, which have targeted the main towns in the south of the Strip (Khan Younis and Rafah), according to Al Jazeera Arab television. , one of the few media outlets that broadcasts from inside the completely besieged Palestinian enclave.
Ground troops remain present in the north of the Strip, in Gaza City, and will not withdraw during the four days that the truce lasts, but they will not be able to advance or attack the Palestinian militias, with whom they have been clashing. throughout Wednesday.
Anonymous Egyptian sources have indicated that the ceasefire will begin tomorrow at 10:00 local time (09:00 in Spain), the time established in the agreement to stop the activity of Israeli military aircraft over northern Gaza until 4:00 p.m. local time (3:00 p.m. in Spain), each day of the four days that the truce lasts. But neither side has officially confirmed the time at which they will cease fire, nor has the main mediator, Qatar, which said in the early hours of Wednesday that the beginning of the truce would be announced in the next 24 hours.
The Qatari Foreign Ministry stated in a statement, published around 04:30 Spanish time, that the “humanitarian pause will allow the entry of a large number of humanitarian convoys and aid, including fuel intended for humanitarian needs,” one of the points most prominent because Israel has blocked or limited the arrival of basic goods to the Strip for a month and a half, and the humanitarian situation is disastrous.
However, a coalition of humanitarian organizations have denounced that the four-day truce barely allows time to provide effective assistance to the more than 2 million inhabitants of Gaza. “For a medical organization, a four-day pause is a band-aid, not healthcare,” said Joel Weiler, director of Médicos del Mundo.
In the statement, Doha also noted that the number of those released “will increase in later phases of the implementation of the agreement,” leaving the door open to an extension of the truce beyond the four days initially agreed upon. The Israeli Government also stated early on Wednesday, when it announced its acceptance of the agreement, that “the release of every ten additional hostages will mean one more day of truce.”
For now, in those four days, 50 Israeli hostages, women and children, will be released, many of whom could have dual nationality. In total, according to the latest official data, there are 236 hostages held by Hamas and other militias in the Palestinian enclave, including more than 30 minors and at least 13 mothers, who may be among those to be released. It is believed that around half of all the hostages would be uniformed and almost half of those kidnapped have dual nationality: Argentine, German, American, French, Thai, Nepalese and Russian. “It’s like Russian roulette. We do not know who is going to be released,” relatives of the hostages have said.
In exchange for the 50 hostages, Israel will release 150 Palestinian prisoners, who will be chosen from among 300 on a list published by the authorities. Most are between 17 and 18 years old, and have been arrested for throwing stones or confronting Israeli soldiers in the West Bank.
The first 10 hostages are expected to be freed on Thursday morning, The Guardian reports. Sources from the Palestinian Authority tell the British media that 50 Palestinian women and children will be released at a checkpoint in Ramallah on Thursday afternoon.
One of Hamas’s conditions, as detailed in a statement, is that the 150 prisoners be women and minors under 19 years of age who have been in Israeli prisons for some time, to prevent those who have been arrested in recent weeks by the terrorists from being released. Israeli forces in a widespread arrest campaign in the West Bank and East Jerusalem – both occupied territories where Hamas does not govern, but where it has a presence. According to Israel, many of those detained have links to the Islamist group.
Both sides have to review the lists of people who could be released and, surely, there will be discrepancies that could delay the entry into force of the ceasefire and the application of the agreement. The head of Israel’s foreign intelligence services (known as Mossad), David Barnea, arrived in Doha on Wednesday afternoon to finalize the details of the agreement, according to the Israeli newspaper. Haaretz.