Updated Nov 22, 2023 - World

Israel and Hamas agree to hostage deal, four-day pause in fighting in Gaza

Family members of people taken hostage in Israel on Oct. 7 hold a demonstration in Tel Aviv on Oct. 26 calling on the government to bring them home. Photo: Amir Levy/Getty Images

The Israeli government and Hamas announced separately on Tuesday they have agreed to a Qatar-mediated deal in which the militant group will free dozens of Israeli hostages in exchange for a four-day pause in fighting in Gaza and the release of dozens of Palestinians held in prisons in Israel.

Why it matters: The deal, once implemented, will be the biggest diplomatic breakthrough and the first major pause in fighting since the war began.

Details: In the first phase of the two-phase deal, Hamas is expected to free at least 50 Israeli women and children held in Gaza, while Israel is expected to release about 150 Palestinian prisoners, mostly women and children over the four-day pause.

  • Israel will allow around 300 aid trucks per day to enter Gaza from Egypt. More fuel will also be allowed in during the pause in fighting, according to an Israeli official.
  • In the second phase, Hamas could release dozens more women, children and elderly people. The Israeli government said it would extend the pause for every additional 10 hostages released.
  • "The starting time of the pause will be announced within the next 24 hours and last for four days, subject to extension," Qatar's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.
  • The Israeli Cabinet approved the deal after more than five hours of discussions.

Catch up quick: More than 240 people, including several Americans, were abducted during the Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist attack.

What they're saying: "After difficult and complicated negotiations over long days we announce that we have arrived at an agreement on a four-day humanitarian truce that was reached through Qatari and Egyptian efforts," Hamas said in a statement.

  • The Israeli government stressed after the Cabinet approved the deal that it was committed to bringing all hostages home.
  • "The Israeli government and the IDF will continue the war in order to bring all the hostages back, finish destroying Hamas and make sure there can be no threat to Israel from Gaza," the statement said.
  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said earlier Tuesday that he had spoken to President Biden in recent days and asked him to help improve the deal. "It was improved so that it will include more hostages for a lower cost," Netanyahu said. "President Biden helped and I thank him for that."

Biden welcomed the deal in a statement late Tuesday.

  • "I am extraordinarily gratified that some of these brave souls, who have endured weeks of captivity and an unspeakable ordeal, will be reunited with their families once this deal is fully implemented," he said.
  • Secretary of State Tony Blinken said in a statement posted to X that the outcome was "the result of tireless diplomacy and relentless effort" across the U.S. government. "While this deal marks significant progress, we will not rest as long as Hamas continues to hold hostages in Gaza," he added.

Between the lines: Three ministers of the far-right Jewish Power Party were the only members of the Israeli Cabinet to vote against the deal.

  • Three ministers of the far-right Religious Zionist Party who threatened before the meeting to vote against the deal changed their position after hearing from the heads of the security services who recommended approving the agreement, a source with knowledge of the meeting said.

What's next: Over the next 24 hours, the names of the Palestinian prisoners set to be released will be made public so that Israeli citizens can appeal to court against their release, according to an Israeli official who briefed reporters earlier Tuesday.

  • Israel will not release Palestinian prisoners who have been convicted of killing Israelis, the official said.

Go deeper... Scoop: Blinken planning to travel to Israel next week for talks on war in Gaza

Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional details throughout.

Go deeper