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Israel-Hamas ceasefire confirmed as 13 hostages set to be released on Friday

Majed Al Ansari, advisor to Qatar's prime minister and its Foreign Ministry spokesman, speaks during an interview in Doha
Majed Al-Ansari, advisor to Qatar's prime minister and its Foreign Ministry spokesman, said he expected there would be no further delays to the release of captives - KYODO/NEWSCOM/AVALON

A ceasefire in Gaza scheduled to begin at 7am (5am GMT) on Friday has been agreed between Israel and Hamas to allow for the release of 13 Israeli hostages.

Qatar, which mediated the talks, confirmed on Thursday that last-minute hurdles to the deal had been rectified paving the way for a pause in fighting to come into effect on Friday morning.

A group of 13 hostages, expected to consist of children and their mothers, are set to be freed at about 4pm local time on Friday.

Majed Al-Ansari, a spokesman for Qatar’s foreign ministry, said on Thursday he expected there would be no further delays to the release of captives: “We are hopeful that by 7am tomorrow everything will stop and we’ll have the beginning of the humanitarian pause.”

Qatar's Spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Majed Al-Ansari, speaks to journalists during a press conference in Doha, Qatar
Qatar said Hamas handed the list of hostages due to be released to Israel on Thursday - IMAD CREIDI/REUTERS

Hamas welcomed the agreement but insisted that was “not the end of the road” for its struggle.

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Osama Hamdan, a Hamas spokesman, told Al Jazeera: “The only thing that will make the Palestinian nation satisfied is the end of the occupation and the end of the Israeli attack on Gaza.”

A representative of its military wing pledged to respect the ceasefire in Gaza but called on its supporters in the West Bank and elsewhere to rise against the Israeli occupation “on all resistance fronts”.

Late on Thursday, Yoav Gallant, Israel’s defence minister, told the troops he was expecting “at least two more months of fighting in Gaza” as he said “fighting will continue intensely at the end of the ceasefire”.

Negotiations hit an unexpected roadblock on Wednesday as the parties reportedly wrangled over the list of hostages set for release. Israeli officials previously complained they were in the dark about who was getting released.

Hamas handed the list of hostages slated for release to Israel on Thursday, Qatar said, adding that it will continue to provide a list on a day-by-day basis.

Person holds ceasefire now sign
Families of the hostages being released have already been informed - MAUREEN MCLEAN/SHUTTERSTOCK

The office of Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, warned the public and media against leaking the names of the hostages to be released for fear of jeopardising their safety before they cross into Israel.

Families of those hostages were already informed privately, it said.

Israel and Hamas reportedly fought over the route the hostages would take out of Gaza.

The International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Thursday the hostages would be moved to Egypt through the sole border crossing and be taken into Israel from there.

Israel is expected to start releasing some of at least 150 female and teenage Palestinian inmates kept at three Israeli prisons later on Friday.

Israel’s Army Radio said on Thursday 39 prisoners will walk free on Friday at around 8pm if the hostage release goes ahead as planned. The Palestinians are expected to be delivered by the ICRC transport to a checkpoint entering the West Bank and natives of East Jerusalem will be brought there.

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