Jerusalem/Cairo: Israel has received a list of hostages due to be released from the Gaza Strip in the first stage of a swap deal reached with Hamas, the Israeli government has confirmed.
Gal Hirsch, the coordinator for hostages and missing at the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office, said in a statement on Thursday that the government had informed the families of the hostages who were on the list, without revealing further details on the list or when the agreed ceasefire in Gaza would take place, Xinhua news agency reported.
The statement came shortly after Qatar, which acted as a mediator, said that the ceasefire between Hamas and Israel in Gaza would officially take effect at 7 a.m. local time on Friday.
Egypt, which brokered the Israel-Hamas truce along with Qatar and the US over the past weeks, also confirmed on Thursday that the postponed truce would be enforced at 7 a.m. on Friday in Gaza.
Egypt’s State Information Service Chairman Diaa Rashwan said his country had received two respective lists of the hostages held in Gaza and the Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, who were to be released Friday.
Israel and Hamas on Wednesday initially agreed to enact a four-day temporary ceasefire in Gaza, starting on Thursday, under a swap deal for Hamas to release at least 50 hostages from Gaza in exchange for some 150 Palestinian detainees held in Israel.
However, Israel’s National Security Council Director Tzachi Hanegbi said in an announcement late Wednesday the deal would not, as expected, come into effect on Thursday.
Israeli troops have been conducting airstrikes and a ground offensive in the Gaza Strip since October 7 in retaliation for a surprise attack staged by Hamas, the militant group that has been ruling the Palestinian enclave since 2007. Israel said the Hamas assault killed about 1,200 people while more than 200 hostages were taken to Gaza.
At the same time, the Palestinian death toll from the relentless Israeli strikes in Gaza has reached 14,532 so far, according to the Hamas-run media office in Gaza.