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Qatar says Gaza ceasefire, hostage release to start Friday

Qatar says Gaza ceasefire, hostage release to start Friday
November 23, 2023 Web Desk

DOHA, Qatar (AFP) - A Gaza truce and hostage release will start on Friday morning, Qatar's foreign ministry spokesman said.

"The pause will begin at 7:00 am (0500 GMT) on Friday... and the first batch of civilian hostages will be handed over at approximately 4:00 pm (1400 GMT) on the same day," Majed Al-Ansari said Thursday.

Thirteen people would freed initially, all women and children from the same families, Ansari said.

"Obviously every day will include a number of civilians as agreed to total 50 within the four days," the spokesperson added.

Israel and Hamas, which have been at war since October 7, had announced a deal on Wednesday allowing at least 50 hostages and scores of Palestinian prisoners to be freed, during a four-day truce.

The deal, facilitated by Qatar, Egypt and the United States, is to take effect in stages that can be extended and broadened. It is also intended to provide aid to Gaza's 2.4 million residents.

The agreement follows weeks of war in the Gaza Strip after Hamas militants broke through the militarised Gaza border on October 7 in an unprecedented attack. Israeli officials say about 1,200 people, mostly civilians, were killed and around 240 taken hostage.

Relentless Israeli bombardments and a ground invasion since then have killed more than 14,000 people, mostly women and children, according to the Hamas government in the Gaza Strip.