Israeli, United States, and Hamas Strike a Tentative Deal for Humanitarian Hostage Release
A tentative deal has been reached between Israel, the United States, and Hamas with the goal of freeing dozens of women and children being held hostage in Gaza. The agreement is contingent upon a five-day pause in the fighting. The initial release, expected to begin within the next several days, would permit the first sustained conflict pause in Gaza.
The negotiated, six-page deal provides for a freeze in combat operations by all parties for at least five days, during which an initial 50 or more hostages would be released in smaller batches every 24 hours. The number of hostages that will be released under the deal has not yet been specified, although it is important to note that there are 239 people believed to be in captivity in Gaza. Overhead surveillance will monitor ground movement to enforce the pause.
The cessation of hostilities is expected to facilitate a substantial increase in humanitarian aid, including fuel, to reach Gaza from Egypt. The outline of this deal was formulated during weeks of talks in Doha, Qatar among Israel, the United States, and intermediaries representing Hamas.
Significantly, Israel has agreed to a limited pause in its offensive in Gaza, provided the appropriate conditions are met. This decision, however, presents a challenge for Israel as there are conflicting views internally on the matter of exchanging hostages for release.
The Biden administration has been instrumental in backing the temporary ceasefire. The release of the nine Americans and one permanent U.S. resident among the hostages is of utmost priority. This pause in the fighting is believed to allow Hamas to gather the hostages while making arrangements for their safe passage through the battlefield. If the release of women and children is successful, other captives are expected to follow.
The release of four captives from Gaza, including an American mother and daughter, during a brief, agreed-upon pause previously, has provided a precedent for what is hoped to be a much larger release. Humanitarian security for civilians in Gaza remains a priority, with the U.S. advocating for continuous aid provisions.