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First Truce in Israel-Hamas Conflict: Hostage Exchange Sparks Hope

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Shivani Chauhan
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First Truce in Israel-Hamas Conflict: Hostage Exchange Sparks Hope

In a significant step towards de-escalation in the Middle East, the first scheduled truce in the ongoing seven-week conflict between Israel and Hamas is set to witness an exchange of thirteen Israeli women and children on Friday. The temporary ceasefire, which came into effect at 7 am local time, follows a delay due to Hamas withholding details about the hostages to be released, including their names and health status. The involvement of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), initially contested by Hamas but requested by Israel to receive the hostages as they cross from Gaza into Egypt, was another point of contention.

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The Hostage Release and Ceasefire

Hamas released two dozen hostages, and Israel freed 39 imprisoned Palestinians on the first day of the truce, which followed weeks of negotiations involving Egypt, Qatar, and the United States. The hostages released included 13 Israelis, with several children among them, 10 Thais, and one Filipino. Israel has indicated a willingness to extend the ceasefire by a day for every additional ten hostages that Hamas releases. However, Hamas has not commented on this offer directly. The leader of Islamic Jihad, a militant group allied with Hamas, stated that the Israeli soldiers taken wouldn't be freed until all Palestinian prisoners held by Israel are released.

Implications of the Truce

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The truce has sparked hope of eventually winding down the conflict, which has led to a surge of violence in the occupied West Bank and raised fears of a broader conflagration across the Middle East. Nevertheless, Israel has declared its determination to resume its massive offensive once the ceasefire ends. This situation has led to mixed emotions among the families of hostages, with fears for those left behind.

Further Developments and Expectations

As part of a four-day ceasefire deal, Israel has received a list of hostages to be freed from Gaza on Saturday by Hamas, following the release of 24 hostages on the previous day. The temporary truce was mediated by Qatar and resulted from intense negotiations between Egypt, the U.S., Hamas, and Israel. The first group of hostages are now in Israel and headed home under protection from Israeli soldiers. However, both Israel and Hamas are expected to resume fighting once the truce ends, with Israeli officials having vowed to eradicate the Palestinian militant group.

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