Israel hostages latest: Hamas agree to release fifty women and children from Gaza after ceasefire deal

Dozens of children and their mothers to be freed via Egypt, according to deal struck by Israel and Hamas

Bel Trew,Andy Gregory,Tom Watling
Wednesday 22 November 2023 10:05
Israel, Hamas reach ceasefire deal with hostage release

At least 50 hostages will be freed by Hamas during a four-day ceasefire under a new deal with Israel, brokered by the Qatar and the United States after weeks of fraught negotiations.

Dozens of children and their mothers held captive in Gaza since Hamas’s brutal incursion into Israel on 7 October will be freed via Egypt, according to the agreement.

This deal can be expanded to see the release of 85 women and children in total, diplomatic sources told The Independent. Israel is willing to extend the much-needed humanitarian ceasefire by a day for every 10 additional hostages released by Hamas, sources said.

The first release of hostages is expected on Thursday. A senior US administration official said that the text of the deal runs to five or six pages and that the pause in military activity contained within would result in “a real surge in humanitarian supplies.”

More than 14,000 people, including 5,000 children, have been killed in Hamas-controlled Gaza since the start of Israel’s retaliatory bombardment on 7 October and subsequent invasion, health authorities in the enclave say.


IDF says hostage release is 'step forward'

IDF says hostage release is 'step forward'
Tom Watling22 November 2023 10:05

Russia welcomes Israel-Hamas ceasefire, says humanitarian pauses are only way forward

Russia welcomed a ceasefire agreement in the Israel-Palestinian conflict on Wednesday and said humanitarian pauses were the only way to make progress towards a settlement.

“This is the first good news from Gaza in a long time,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

“Russia and most countries were calling for a truce and humanitarian pauses, because only on the basis of such pauses can the contours of future attempts at a sustainable settlement be built.”

Since the start of the conflict, President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly emphasised the suffering of Palestinian citizens, called the crisis a failure of US policy and urged Israel to show restraint. Russia also angered Israel by hosting a Hamas delegation in Moscow last month.

Western officials have accused Russia of employing double standards. They have suggested the Kremlin’s calls for Israel to stop bombing civilian areas in Gaza are undermined by its own constant targeting of civilian areas in Ukraine as part of its “special military operation”.

Indeed, the United Nations Human Rights Office confirmed yesterday that the number of Ukrainian civilians killed by Russian attacks has surpassed 10,000, though they added that the true total was likely “significantly higher”.

Vladimir Putin has been accused of using the Gaza bombardment for his own political gain

Tom Watling22 November 2023 09:59

Fifty hostages in Gaza to be freed as Israel and Hamas reach deal after weeks of fraught negotiations

Fifty hostages, including dozens of children, will be released from captivity in Gaza after a deal was reached between Israel and Hamas – marking a major breakthrough after weeks of fraught negotiations.

Under the agreement, which was brokered by Qatar and the US, at least 50 Israeli civilians – including the children and their mothers – will be released via Egypt during a four-day pause in hostilities.

The Independent understands that there will also be an exchange of Palestinian women and children held in Israeli prisons but details were not yet finalised.

Our Chief International Correspondent Bel Trew reports.

Fifty hostages in Gaza to be freed in Israel and Hamas deal after weeks of talks

Landmark deal will see the return of dozens of women and children kidnapped by Hamas

Tom Watling22 November 2023 09:45

Pope says conflict between Israel and Hamas has gone beyond war to 'terrorism'

Pope Francis on Wednesday met separately with Israeli relatives of hostages held by Hamas and Palestinians with family in Gaza and said the conflict had gone beyond war to become “terrorism”.

Speaking in unscripted remarks at his Wednesday general audience in St. Peter’s Square shortly after the early morning meetings in his residence, Francis said he heard directly how “both sides are suffering”.

Pope Francis on Wednesday met separately with Israeli relatives of hostages held by Hamas and Palestinians with family in Gaza

Tom Watling22 November 2023 09:24

Israel and Hezbollah exchange rocket fire over northern border

Israel and Hezbollah appear to be exchanging fires across the northern border only hours after a temporary truce in Gaza was negotiated.

Local reports have claimed in the last few minutes that sirens are sounding in the northern Israeli settlement of Kfar Rosh.

Meanwhile, Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) spokesperson Daniel Hagari claimed that “warplanes attacked several terrorist targets of the Hezbollah terrorist organisation in Lebanese territory” this morning.

He also posted a video purporting to show the attack.

Smoke rises from an Israeli army position which was hit by Hezbollah shells as it is seen from Rmeish, a Lebanese border village

Tom Watling22 November 2023 09:08

Iraq's Kataib Hezbollah militia says 5 killed by US strikes

Iraq’s Kataib Hezbollah militia said five of its members were killed in its stronghold of Jurf al-Sakhar, south of Baghdad, in U.S. strikes that Washington said were in response to attacks by Iran-aligned militias against its forces in the region.

The U.S. carried out two series of strikes in Iraq on Tuesday and Wednesday, its first publicly reported responses on Iraqi territory to dozens of recent attacks and a sign of escalation in the regional conflict tied to the Israel-Hamas war.

The attacks began on Oct. 17 and have been linked by Iraqi militia groups to U.S. support for Israel in its bombardment of Gaza following attacks by Palestinian militant group Hamas on Israel.

The strike by fighter aircraft targeted and destroyed a Kataib Hezbollah operations centre and a command and control node near Al Anbar and Jurf Al-Sakhar, a U.S. defence official said.

An Iraqi military official said at least three members of Kataib Hezbollah had been killed and seven wounded in the overnight U.S. strikes.

Kataib Hezbollah is part of Iraq’s Popular Mobilisation Forces, a group of many mainly Shi’ite Muslim armed groups that was formed in 2014 to fight Islamic State and subsequently recognised as an official security agency by Iraq’s government.

Tom Watling22 November 2023 09:00

Hezbollah leader meets with senior Hamas officials in Lebanon

Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah has met with senior Hamas officials in the Lebanese capital of Beirut amid confirmation of a temporary truce in Gaza, local reports have confirmed.

Nasrallah met with Khalil al-Hiya and Osama Hamdan to discuss with them “continuing coordination”.

They spoken beneath a portrait of Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Senior Hamas officials speak with Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah (R) in Beirut

Tom Watling22 November 2023 08:57

Ambulances arrive to evacuate final Al-Shifa hospital patients

More than a dozen ambulances have arrived at the al-Shifa hospital in northern Gaza this morning to evacuate some of the remaining patients.

Israeli Defence Forces took control of the hospital last week after claiming that Hamas was running a command post underneath it. They have yet to show conclusive evidence of this.

“14 PRCS ambulances accompanied by the UN & Doctors Without Borders arrived at Al-Shifa Hospital to evacuate the wounded and patients,” a Palestine Red Crescent Society statement said on X.

As of Monday, the United Nations said that just under 300 patients remained in al-Shifa hospital.

Tens of thousands of Palestinians were either sheltering there or being treated prior to the evacuation notices handed down by Israeli forces in the past few weeks. It is the largest medical complex in Gaza.

On Monday, the World Health Organisation said it had become a “death zone”.

Israeli soldiers inside the al-Shifa hospital complex last week

Tom Watling22 November 2023 08:49

Add-ons of the Hamas hostage deal

A deal was agreed upon overnight for a four-day ceasefire in Gaza while roughly 50 hostages will be released from the enclave in exchange for roughly 150 Palestinian prisoners in Israel.

But included in the deal are additional elements designed to improve the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

Israel will allow roughly 300 aid trucks to enter Gaza per day, according to one report. This would amount to a significant increase; in the previous weeks, less than a dozen have been permitted to enter the enclave via the Egyptian Rafah crossing.

More fuel will also be permitted into the enclave during the pause in fighting, according to one senior Israeli official, though it is unclear how much and to whom it will be given.

Previously, any fuel supplies have been handed only to United Nations organisations for fear of Hamas using it for their own ends. Overcrowded hospitals in Gaza have said previously that the lack of fuel is preventing them from performing life-saving surgeries.

A Jordanian humanitarian aid convoy enters the Gaza Strip from Egypt in Rafah

Tom Watling22 November 2023 08:41

Palestinians suffering worst displacement since 1948, says UNRWA

The displacement of Palestinians in recent weeks has been the largest since 1948, the UN’s agency for Palestine refugees has said – warning of “an exodus under our watch”.

“We have just witnessed over the last few weeks the largest displacement of Palestinians since 1948,” UNRWA said.

“The scale of destruction and loss is staggering. It is an exodus under our watch. The younger generation, forced to live through traumas of ancestors or parents.”

Andy Gregory22 November 2023 08:30

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