War in the Middle East. The evolution of the conflict between Israel and Hamas up to the minute

US President Joe Biden said he was “extraordinarily pleased” about the release of hostages kidnapped in Israel by Hamas militants on October 7 as part of a deal approved by the Israeli government.

“I am extraordinarily pleased that many of these brave souls (…) will be reunited with their families once this agreement is fully implemented,” Biden, the US president, said in a statement released by the White House.

The US president praised Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for his “commitment” to the extended pause “to ensure the full implementation of this agreement and to ensure that additional humanitarian assistance is provided to alleviate the suffering of the innocent people of Palestinian families in Gaza.”

“It is important that all aspects of this agreement are fully implemented,” Biden warned.

The US president also indicated that guaranteeing the safety of US hostages was a “high priority”.

“From the first moments of the brutal attack by Hamas, my national security team and I have worked closely with regional partners (…) and I will not stop until everyone is freed,” Biden stressed.

Moscow expressed satisfaction with the agreement, the result of mediation by Egypt, the United States and Qatar, stressing that “this is exactly what Russia has been demanding since the beginning of the intensification of the conflict”.

“Russia welcomes the agreement between Israel and Hamas on a four-day humanitarian pause,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said, as quoted by the country’s news agencies.

Qatar said today that a “humanitarian pause” would be announced within the next 24 hours, which would “last for four days, subject to extension”.

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“The agreement includes the release of 50 civilian hostages, women and children currently held in the Gaza Strip, in exchange for the release of several Palestinian women and children held in Israeli prisons,” Qatar’s foreign ministry said.

“The number of those released will increase in the later stages of the implementation of the agreement,” the statement added.

Qatar stressed that the cease-fire would “allow for the entry of large numbers of humanitarian aid and humanitarian aid, including fuel designated for humanitarian needs”.

Israel adopted the agreement on Tuesday, with all members of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s administration voting in favor, except for the far-right Jewish Power Party (Otzma Yehudit) and National Defense Minister Itamar Ben Gvir.

Hamas welcomed the deal today, but insisted it was not an end to fighting. “We ensure that our hands remain on the trigger and our successful battalions remain alert,” the group warned in a statement.

The ceasefire comes after weeks of pressure from the international community and key international organizations such as the United Nations to end the relentless attacks that have displaced more than 1.5 million people.

Tel Aviv declared war on Hamas, the Islamist group that launched an attack on Israel on Oct. 7 that killed more than 1,200 people and kidnapped 240 to Gaza.

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