Israel Hamas war Gaza Strip

South Africans fighting for Israel in Gaza could face prosecution at home, the government warned on Monday. Photo by Mahmud HAMS / AFP

Israel and Hamas agree to humanitarian truce

Israel and Hamas have announced a historic truce, marking a pause in the intense conflict that ensued after an unprecedented Hamas

Israel Hamas war Gaza Strip

South Africans fighting for Israel in Gaza could face prosecution at home, the government warned on Monday. Photo by Mahmud HAMS / AFP

A humanitarian truce beckoned in Gaza Wednesday, more than six weeks after an unprecedented Hamas attack sparked an air and ground offensive by Israel, which has vowed to destroy the Palestinian militants.

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In Gaza, more than 14,000 people, at least 5,800 of them children, have been killed in the war, officials in the Hamas-run territory said.

About 1,200 people, mostly civilians, were killed in Israel during the October 7 attack and around 240 taken hostage, according to Israeli officials.

Here are four key developments from the past 24 hours:

Israel and Hamas truce deal

Israel and Hamas announced a deal on Wednesday allowing at least 50 hostages and scores of Palestinian prisoners to be freed while offering besieged Gaza residents a four-day truce.

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In the first major diplomatic breakthrough in the bloodiest ever Gaza war, Palestinian militants are set to release 50 women and children kidnapped during their deadly October 7 raids into southern Israel.

Hamas welcomed the “humanitarian truce” and said it would see 150 Palestinians released from Israeli jails.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet approved the truce accord at the end of an almost all-night meeting, with the premier telling ministers this was a “difficult decision but it’s a right decision”.

Uncertainty for families in Israel

Families of Israeli hostages and Palestinian prisoners grappled with a lack of clarity over who would be freed in the exchange and when.

Israel has published the names of 300 prisoners eligible for release, but no such information has been released by Hamas.

There are at least 35 children among the hostages, 18 of them aged 10 and under, according to an AFP count, as well as more than 50 women.

“We don’t know who will get out because Hamas will release the names every evening of those who will get out the next day,” said Gilad Korngold, whose eight-year-old grandson Naveh and granddaughter Yahel, three, are among seven family members held captive.

Sameera Dwayyat, a Palestinian from annexed east Jerusalem, said she was delighted her 26-year-old daughter Shruq was coming home after serving half of her 16-year sentence, but admitted she had “mixed feelings” given the loss of life in Gaza.

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Aid ‘surge’ planned

EU chief Ursula von der Leyen said she had ordered a surge in aid deliveries to Gaza following the announcement of the four-day halt to fighting.

“The European Commission will do its utmost to use this pause for a humanitarian surge to Gaza,” she said.

UN chief Antonio Guterres welcomed the humanitarian truce as “an important step in the right direction,” but underlined that “much more needs to be done,” a spokesman said.

Six dead in West Bank: Palestinians

Six Palestinians were shot dead by Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank on Wednesday, the Palestinian Authority’s health ministry said.

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Across the West Bank, more than 200 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli soldiers and settlers since the Hamas attacks on October 7, according to the ministry.

© Agence France-Presse