Hamas and Israel will free hostages and prisoners in a deal brokered by American, Qatari, and Egyptian officials that will include a four-day ceasefire to allow more humanitarian aid to reach Gaza, officials announced late Tuesday.
The negotiations come after six weeks of brutal fighting that has killed more than 11,000 Palestinians—more than half of whom were women and children—and 1,200 Israelis, according to the latest numbers published by the Associated Press.
Here’s what to know about the agreement:
What are the details of the release of the hostages and prisoners?
According to Qatar’s government, 50 women and children held hostage by Hamas in the Gaza Strip will be released. Those hostages are part of a group of 240 people kidnapped by Hamas on Oct. 7. The freed hostages will likely include at least three Americans—two women and a child—National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said on the “TODAY” show Wednesday. Israel has also agreed to extend the ceasefire for 24 hours for every additional 10 hostages released, Sullivan confirmed.
He added that the hostages will be released throughout the ceasefire “in a carefully choreographed way so that both sides can verify that the other side is upholding their end of the deal.”
Palestinian women and children held in Israeli prisons will also be released, the number of which “will be increased in later stages of implementing the agreement,” Qatar said. Al Jazeera reports that the truce calls for the release of 150 Palestinians; about 5,200 Palestinians were in Israeli prisons before Oct. 7; another 3,000—including 145 children and 95 women—have been arrested since Oct. 7. On Wednesday, Israel posted a list of 300 Palestininans being considered for release.
What will happen during the ceasefire?
The ceasefire will “allow the entry of a larger number of humanitarian convoys and relief aid” into Gaza, along with fuel needed for humanitarian operations, according to the statement from Qatar. Specifically, more fuel trucks will be allowed to enter Gaza—which Israel has largely resisted—along with 300 to 400 humanitarian aid trucks per day, NBC News reported, citing an anonymous senior US official and a source familiar with the talks in the region.
Gaza has been in the depths of a humanitarian crisis, with Palestinians in Gaza living on as little as two pieces of bread a day, its hospital system on the brink of collapse, and a record number of UN aid workers killed. A UN official said on CNN that the humanitarian situation in Gaza is “the worst ever, and I don’t say that lightly.”
Vice President Kamala Harris said in a statement late Tuesday that humanitarian aid from Israel flowing into Gaza “must substantially increase and civilians must be protected” as the ceasefire unfolds.
What comes next?
Egyptian state-run TV originally said the truce would take effect Thursday morning local time, the Associated Press reported, and Qatar’s government said the exact time will be announced within 24 hours. But Wednesday night, Israel’s national security director said in a statement that the release of the hostages would not begin before Friday, NBC News and other outlets reported.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said officials will work to free the rest of the hostages in Gaza; President Biden promised the same in a call on Wednesday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, according to a readout from the White House, which also says that Biden “emphasized the importance of maintaining calm along the Lebanese border as well as in the West Bank.”
In a statement, the Israeli government said that, in addition to returning all the hostages, their goal is to “complete the elimination of Hamas and ensure that there will be no new threat to the State of Israel from Gaza.”
Palestinian authorities welcomed the deal in a post on X and renewed “the call for a comprehensive cessation of the Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people,” adding that their ultimate goal is “an end to the occupation and the Palestinian people gaining their freedom, independence, and sovereignty.”
This post has been updated to include new information about when the hostages will be released and statements from the U.S. and Israeli governments.