Temporary truce between Israel and Hamas begins

The pause in fighting will allow for an exchange of some hostages held in Gaza and Palestinians detained in Israel

Smoke rises from buildings after Israeli strikes on Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip. Hamas and Israel have agreed to a temporary truce. AFP
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A four-day pause in the fighting between Hamas and Israel in the Gaza Strip has begun, with the agreement set to allow the release of dozens of Israeli hostages held by the militant group, as well as Palestinians detained in Israel.

More than 2.3 million Palestinians in Gaza have faced heavy and continuous Israeli air strikes and ground assaults since the October 7 attack by Hamas.

The group killed about 1,200 Israelis and took more than 200 hostage. Israel's retaliatory attacks on the enclave have killed more than 14,500.

The temporary truce, mediated by Qatar, will allow more aid to reach the millions of Palestinians trapped in the enclave.

On Thursday, Qatari Foreign Ministry spokesman Majed Al Ansari said the pause would begin at 7am local time (9am UAE time) on Friday.

Mr Al Ansari said the two sides exchanged lists of those to be released, with the first group of 13 women and children held by Hamas to be freed at 4pm on Friday.

Under the deal, Israeli aircraft are to stop flying over the southern Gaza Strip and will halt operations in the north Gaza, including Gaza city, between 10am and 4pm.

Three Palestinian prisoners, including women and children, will be released for every hostage, Mr Al Ansari said.

It is expected that 50 Israeli hostages – women and children under the age of 19 – will be released by Hamas and between 200 and 300 aid lorries, eight carrying fuel and cooking gas, will enter the enclave, Mr Al Ansari said.

In exchange, 150 Palestinian prisoners are to be released by Israel.

Indonesian Hospital stormed

Less than an hour before the pause began in Gaza, Israeli forces reportedly stormed the Indonesian Hospital in the northern part of the strip, the Gaza Health Ministry was quoted as saying.

One woman was killed in the assault and three other people were injured, said Dr Munir Al Bursh, director general of the ministry.

Weeks of aerial bombardment has reduced most of Gaza to rubble and the Israel military has pushed deep into the enclave, with a ground incursion aiming to unearth infrastructure and underground tunnels used by militants.

The Israeli bombardment has hit hospitals, schools, refugee camps and UN shelters.

Updated: November 24, 2023, 7:31 AM