Israel announced that a four-day Gaza truce and captive release will not begin until at least Friday, delaying a breakthrough agreement to halt the horrific battle with Hamas.
Tzachi Hanegbi, national security adviser, said the planned phased release of at least 50 hostages in exchange for 150 Palestinian inmates will still take place, but not on Thursday.
“The contacts on the release of our hostages are advancing and continuing constantly,” he said in a statement about the agreed deal to free mostly women and people aged 18 and under on both sides.
“The start of the release will take place according to the original agreement between the sides, and not before Friday.”
A second Israeli official indicated that a temporary cease-fire will not be implemented on Thursday, as airstrikes and warfare resumed in northern Gaza.
The delay is another setback for families eager to see their loved ones return home, as well as the two million-plus Gazans hoping for an end to the 47-day conflict and misery.
The intricate and meticulously choreographed accord saw Israel and Hamas agree to a four-day truce during which at least 50 Palestinian militant group hostages would be released in stages.
On Friday, a Palestinian official with knowledge of the negotiations who did not want to be identified told AFP that the delay was due to “last-minute” specifics about which hostages would be released and how.
According to Israeli police, Hamas and other Palestinian gunmen took roughly 240 captives during unprecedented raids into Israel on October 7, killing 1,200 people, the majority of whom were civilians.
The act sparked a relentless Israeli bombing campaign and ground offensive in Hamas-run Gaza, killing more than 14,000 people, many of whom were children, according to authorities.
According to an Israeli official paper, the second phase would include an extra day’s “pause” in fighting for every 10 additional hostages released.
Three Americans were among those set to be released, including three-year-old Abigail Mor Idan.
In exchange, Israel would release at least 150 Palestinian women and children detained in Israeli jails and let additional humanitarian aid into the beleaguered coastal enclave.
The stalemate came after weeks of negotiations between Israel, Palestinian militant groups, Qatar, Egypt, and the US.
According to Majed Al-Ansari, a spokeswoman for Qatar’s foreign ministry, implementation of the agreement “continues and is going positively.”