Humanitarian pause in Gaza to begin at 7am on Friday, 13 hostages to be released by 4pm

Humanitarian pause in Gaza to begin at 7am on Friday, 13 hostages to be released by 4pm

QLNews
By QLNews

A spokesperson from Qatar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the ‘humanitarian pause’ in Gaza will begin at 7am on Friday, November 24.

A total of 13 Israeli women and children, held hostage by Hamas, will be released at 4pm.

“The first release (of captives) will be of 13 individuals – women and children. They will be released at approximately 4pm Gaza time. That’ll be happening every day within a specific window of time where the situation will be much safer for them to move about. They’ll be handed over to Red Cross and the idea is to make the transfer as safe as possible for all parties,” said Dr Majid bin Mohammed Al Ansari, spokesperson for Qatar’s foreign ministry, during a news conference in Doha.

“Those hostages who’re from the same families will be put together within the same patch. Obviously every day will include a number of civilians as agreed to total 50 within the four days,” he said.

“We’re hoping we don’t see any delays and I think we’ve reached a point now where everything is in place and we’re ready to go on the ground. So we’re hopeful that by 7am tomorrow, everything will stop and we’ll have the beginning of the humanitarian pause,” he said.

He shed more light on the negotiations that happened on Wednesday, which went deep into the night.

“The communications that took place all through yesterday went on until early morning today with the Egyptians and the parties of the conflict present here in Doha. The meetings went very well and in a positive environment,” reported Al Jazeera.

“The results of course was the implementation plan of the agreement, which we’ve always said needed to be something that is concrete and very ready to create a safe environment for the release of hostages.”

“The discussions over the details, of how this will happen, were very difficult. We wanted to make sure that nothing would cause harm in the process of getting the hostages out but also that the parameters of the agreement are agreed upon in the operational sense between both sides.

“That took a lot of discussions between both sides, but we’re happy to report that the discussions happened in a very positive environment where both sides showed the commitment to the agreement itself,” he said.

Al Ansari said he could not disclose more information about the routes by which captives will be taken out of Gaza for ‘security reasons.’

“Our main objective here is the safety of the hostages. We’ll focus on making sure they get there safely through our operations room,” he said, adding that there will be collaboration with the Red Cross and the parties to the conflict.

When asked about the release of non-Israeli captives, Al Ansari had this to say: “The criteria on which to prioritise the hostages were purely humanitarian and our focus was getting the women and children out of harm’s way as soon as possible.”

“The hope is that the momentum carried by this deal will help us get everybody out in time and at the same time, of course, lessen the hardship of the people in Gaza through the humanitarian pause that’s taking place,” he added.

Answering Al Jazeera’s question, the top official said provision of humanitarian aid is ‘an integral part’ of the deal.

“We’re expecting aid to go in as soon as possible from the Rafah crossing. It’ll be a fraction of the need in Gaza. The need is so great in Gaza. And of course, our aim is for this deal to end with a lasting truce,” he said.

Al Ansari told reporters he could not disclose how many Palestinian prisoners would be released on Friday.

“But I can tell you that the deal is reciprocal, so we’re expecting a release to happen also on the Israeli side. The release of hostages will take place around 4pm local time,” he said.

Al Ansari said the lists with the names ‘are a day-by-day process.’

“Whenever we’ve both lists confirmed, this is when we can begin with the process of getting the people out. But there’s an agreement with the time intervals. Our teams have been working day and night,” he said, according to Al Jazeera.

Responding to a question about what would constitute a breakdown of the truce, Al Ansari said: The agreement is about full cessation of hostilities within the four days. So obviously any resumption of hostilities of any kind would be a breach.”

“It’s very important that lines of communication remain open so that any possible breach, however it’s defined, is communicated immediately to both sides and there’s a way to walk back from it and make sure we continue with (the deal),” said Al Ansari.

Asked about whether there was a sense that both parties desired a permanent ceasefire, the ministry spokesperson responded in this way.

“What we’ve felt is they’re committed to this highly. Our aim is to reach this agreement and to pave the way for more pauses that can put an end to this war that everyone is suffering from. Hopefully, the end will be very soon and we need to build this and that in order to reach a lasting permanent ceasefire.”

In response to a question about other fronts, Al Ansari said the pause covered ‘only the Gaza Strip.’

“We aren’t talking about other fronts. We talk specifically about the situation in Gaza,” he said, according to Al Jazeera.

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