Tel Aviv: The Israeli Parliament has passed a proposal to implement a four-day ceasefire in the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas, in exchange for the release of 50 hostages held by the militant group. The Times of Israel reported that the deal was approved by the government late on Tuesday night.
According to the deal, most of the hostages who will be freed are women and children, who will be released in groups of 12-13 every day. Hamas is expected to start the process on Wednesday and may release 20 women and 30 children in total. In return, Israel will have to free 150 Palestinian prisoners, who have been in Israeli custody for various reasons. The deal was reached after long negotiations, mediated by Egypt and Qatar.
However, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made it clear that the ceasefire does not mean the end of the war, and that Israel will continue to target Hamas until it achieves its goals of destroying the terrorist infrastructure and ensuring the security of Israel. He said that the Israeli government is committed to bringing back all the hostages home and that the deal is only the first phase of achieving that objective.
Hamas Chief Ismail Haniyeh also hinted at a possible ceasefire on Sunday, saying that his group was ready to end the hostilities if Israel stopped its aggression and lifted the blockade on Gaza.
The deal has faced opposition from some quarters in Israel, especially from the families of the victims of the Hamas attack on October 7, which killed about 12,000 people and triggered the war. The attack also resulted in the capture of about 240 hostages by Hamas, who have been used as bargaining chips by the group. The families have protested against any deal that would release Palestinian prisoners, saying that it would encourage more terrorism and violence.
The war, which has entered its seventh week, has caused immense suffering and devastation on both sides, with thousands of casualties, millions of displaced people, and widespread damage to infrastructure and facilities. The international community has been calling for an immediate and lasting ceasefire, and a political solution to the long-standing conflict.