It’s the 49th day of the Israel-Hamas war, and the ceasefire agreement that includes the release of 50 hostages being held by Hamas will finally begin following a one-day delay and weeks of stalled negotiations.
Qatar, a mediator alongside Egypt in the four-day ceasefire-hostage deal, announced Thursday that the truce will begin at 7 a.m. Friday local time (12 a.m. ET). Hamas is expected to free 13 women and children at 4 p.m. Friday local time.
As part of the agreement, Palestinians detained in Israeli prisons will also be released, but the exact number to be freed on Friday is still unclear.
A separate agreement reportedly states that Hamas will unconditionally release 23 Thai hostages, Arab media reported. Iran reportedly mediated the negotiations for the said Thailand-Indonesia deal.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reiterated that Israel will resume the war once the ceasefire-hostage deal is upheld.
The much-anticipated truce came around seven weeks since Hamas operatives launched a surprise attack in Israel, killing more than a thousand people and abducting over 200 Israelis and foreign nationals.
Longstanding Israel-Palestine tensions blew up once the war started as supporters of the warring sides staged protests around the world. U.S. President Joe Biden has repeatedly reaffirmed his country’s support for Israel while reminding its Middle Eastern ally to defend itself under international and humanitarian laws.