Israel-Hamas Negotiations Face Delay, Hostage Release and Ceasefire Postponed

Israeli-Hamas negotiations continued overnight, with indications from Israeli officials that the release of hostages from Gaza and a pause in fighting would face delays. Originally scheduled to begin on Thursday morning, the four-day halt in military operations and the release of hostages is now expected to commence “not before Friday,” according to the head of Israel’s National Security Council. The delicate accord with Hamas, announced earlier in the week, is proving challenging to implement.

Qatar, alongside Egypt, acting as a mediator, announced that the timing of the truce’s implementation will be disclosed “within the coming hours.” US President Joe Biden engaged with key players, emphasizing the importance of executing all aspects of the deal.

The agreement involves Hamas freeing 50 women and children from Gaza, reciprocated by Israel releasing 150 women and Palestinians under 19 from its jails. The ceasefire, contingent on the Red Cross receiving hostages from Hamas, is part of a larger effort to address the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

While some nations call for an extended ceasefire, Israel and the US reject it, citing concerns about Hamas rearming. The outcome holds significant stakes for President Biden, facing pressure to end Israel’s offensive. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu affirmed the commitment to destroying Hamas.

Diplomatic efforts continue, with Arab delegations visiting key capitals. In the region, an Israeli airstrike in Lebanon raised tensions, and events in Yemen underscored the risk of spillover. Jordan’s Foreign Minister warned of a broader conflict if Israel persists in its Gaza assault, expressing concern about reaching a point of no return.

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