Sunday November 19, 2023
People carry placards during a protest calling for the immediate release of hostages held in Gaza who were seized from southern Israel on October 7 by Palestinian Islamist group Hamas gunmen during a deadly attack, at a square in Tel Aviv, Israel, November 11, 2023.
(photo credit: REUTERS/AMMAR AWAD)
Israel, the United States, and Hamas have reached a tentative agreement to free dozens of women and children held hostage in Gaza in exchange for a five-day pause in fighting, the Washington Post reported on Saturday, citing people familiar with the deal.The newspaper said overhead surveillance would monitor ground movement to help police the pause, which also is intended to allow in a significant amount of humanitarian aid.
As part of the detailed, six-page agreement, all parties would freeze combat operations for at least five days while "an initial 50 or more hostages are released in smaller groups every 24 hours," the Post reported. Hamas took about 240 hostages during its Oct. 7 rampage inside Israel that killed 1,200 people.
There was no immediate comment from the White House or the Israeli prime minister's office on the Post report.
The hostage release could begin within the next several days, according to people familiar with its the agreement.
Pressure had been growing on Israel to reach a deal
Since Hamas's attack on October 7, during which at least 240 Israelis were taken into captivity in Gaza, families of those held hostage have organized to call on the government, as well as international bodies, to act for the captives' release. Last Saturday night marked the second week in a row that demonstrations have been held in cities across the country. Thousands attended the rally in Tel Aviv on November 12, including Reuven Rivlin, the former President of Israel, and the singer Shlomo Artzi.
Haim Rubinstein, the spokesperson for a families' activist group, said in an interview with Channel 13 on Monday that "members of the families [of the kidnapped] are sitting in their homes, anxious about the fate of their loved ones, and they want to do something, right now." Their plan, he said, is to "arrive in Jerusalem and meet with the Prime Minister, with a clear demand: return all of them, now."
In a statement on Tuesday, Prime Minister Netanyahu said, "Our hearts are always with the abductees and their families. Since the beginning of the war, we have been working continuously to free our abductees, including exerting increasing pressure since the beginning of the ground maneuver."