What To Know About The Israel-Hamas Hostage Deal



Israel and Hamas agreed to a deal in which Hamas will release 50 hostages and Israel will release 150 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for a four-day ceasefire, a truce that took weeks to reach and the help of Qatari officials, marking the first pause in fighting since Hamas attacked southern Israel and brought hostages back to Gaza on Oct. 7.

Key Facts

Some 50 women and children who have been held captive by Hamas since it launched its attack on Israel on Oct. 7 will be released, the Qatari government announced Wednesday.

Three Americans—including three-year-old Abigail Mor Edan, whose parents were killed on Oct. 7—are among the 50 hostages set to be released, a senior U.S. official told Reuters.

In exchange for the hostages, the Israelis will release 150 Palestinian women and children who are being held in Israeli prisons and allow hundreds of trucks carrying aid into the area, according to Hamas’ statement (Qatar confirmed Palestinian prisoners will be released but didn’t specify the number).

Both Israel and Hamas confirmed the deal includes a four-day pause in fighting: The truce is set to begin at 10 a.m. local time (3:00 EST) Thursday, a Hamas political bureau member Mousa Abu Marzouk told Al Jazeera, adding that the break in fighting would include “all regions of the Gaza strip.”

For every ten additional hostages released by Hamas, Israel said it would extend the ceasefire by one day, as hundreds of hostages remain in Gaza.

What To Watch For

The exact time when the ceasefire and subsequently the first hostage releases will begin is unclear but is expected in the next 24 hours, according to the New York Times.

Big Number

240. That’s approximately how many Israeli and foreign nationals have been held hostage by Hamas since the Oct. 7 attack, according to the Israeli Army. The captives range in age from nine months to 85 years old, according to Reuters. In the weeks since the fighting began, Hamas has released four of those hostages. At least two hostages who were held by Hamas have been found dead, according to the Israeli Defense Forces—19-year-old Israeli soldier Noa Marciano and 65-year-old Yehudit Weiss.

What We Don’t Know

While it’s been agreed that women and children who are being held hostage will be released, it’s unclear the exact identity of the hostages who will be freed in the coming days. Israeli military spokesperson Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus said all of the hostages who will be released under this agreement are Israelis, including some dual nationals, CNN reported. Hostages of other nationalities are also being held by Hamas.


Addameer, a Palestinian prisoners’ rights group, told the New York Times some 200 boys, 75 women and five teen girls were in Israeli detention as of this week. Another 700 people are missing from Gaza and also believed to be in Israeli prisons, the Times reported. Some prisoners are held under Israel’s controversial “administrative detention” policy, meaning they’re being held without charges, Addameer told the Times. The group argues many of those Palestinian prisoners are held by Israel due to political activity, though Israel has argued the practice of administrative detention is necessary to crack down on militant activity.

Key Background

On Oct. 7, Hamas invaded southern Israel, killing 1,200 Israelis according to the country’s revised death toll and taking some 240 people hostage. Since then, Israel has heavily bombarded the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip and launched a massive ground invasion in northern Gaza, killing some 13,000 Palestinians and displacing thousands of civilians who have fled to the densely populated enclave’s south, according to the Hamas-run Gaza government’s media office. Gaza health officials have said they’ve lost the ability to keep track of the number of people who have died, according to the Associated Press.

Further Reading

Israel And Hamas Reach Hostage Release Deal In Exchange For 4-Day Pause In Fighting (Forbes)


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