Israel and Hamas agree truce, release of 50 hostages

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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 after weeks of all-out war.

In the first major diplomatic breakthrough in the war, Palestinian militants will release during a four-day truce 50 women and children kidnapped during their October 7 raids. After weeks of Qatar-brokered negotiations, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet approved the truce accord Wednesday after a near-all-night meeting, in which he told ministers this was a “difficult decision but it’s a right decision”.

The cabinet’s sign-off was one of the last stumbling blocks after what one US official described as five “extremely excruciating” weeks of talks. Hamas released a statement welcoming the “humanitarian truce” and said it would also see 150 Palestinians released from Israeli jails.

“The resistance is committed to the truce as long as the occupation honours it,” a Hamas official told AFP.

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