Israel Palestine Conflict

Ceasefire delayed over ‘last minute’ hostage list details: Palestinian official

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A Palestinian official told AFP Thursday that a delay in implementation of a truce in the Gaza Strip between Israeli forces and Hamas was due to “last minute” details over which hostages would be released and how.

The truce, widely expected to go into force on Thursday but delayed during the night, had been put back over “the names of the Israeli hostages and the modalities of their release,” said the official, who has knowledge of the negotiation process.

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Lists of those to be freed had been exchanged by both sides, he added. Questions were also being raised over Red Cross access to the hostages before they would be released into Egypt, he said, and whether the Red Cross would have access to those who remained.

When the ceasefire would go into effect it would be announced by mediator Qatar, “in co-ordination with the Egyptians and the Americans, in the coming hours today,” he added.

The agreement follows weeks of war in the Gaza Strip after the Hamas attacks on southern Israel on October 7, which Israeli officials say killed about 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and saw around 240 taken hostage.

Under it, a humanitarian pause will be followed by releases of an initial 50 hostages from Israel and 150 Palestinian prisoners.

All of those to be released under the three-to-one ratio are either women or aged 18 and under.

The Hamas-run government in the Gaza Strip says more than 14,000 people have died in Israel’s assault, most of them women and children.

A senior Hamas official reached by phone told AFP that there were “obstacles linked to the situation on the ground,” hoping that there would not be “a mistake that has a negative impact on the truce or prevent it happening.”

But “mediators are shuttling between the two sides and the atmosphere is still constructive,” he added.

Qatar’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Majed Al-Ansari said Thursday that talks were “continuing and progressing positively.”

The timing of the pause “will be announced within the next few hours,” he said in a statement.

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