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Buildings destroyed by Israeli airstrikes in the Jabalia refugee camp in Gaza City (Yahya Hassouna/Getty Images via Caritas Australia)

Thirteen Israeli women and children will be released in the early hours of Saturday AEDT, the first of 50 to be freed over four days, in what the Vatican calls “a very important” step forward. Source: The Australian/Vatican News.

Hamas and Qatar have confirmed that a ceasefire of hostilities will begin at 7am Friday local time (4pm AEDT), both Hamas and Israel have said, and if both militaries follow the terms of the deal, then the first hostages will be released nine hours later at 4pm local time (1am AEDT).

The names of the Israeli hostages set to be freed have been conveyed to the families – both to those who are related to those being released, and to those whose loved ones will remain in the hands of Hamas.

As soon as the hostages are out of Gaza and in the safety of Egypt or Israel, then Israel will release 39 mainly female or teenaged Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails.

A list of 300 possible candidates for this prisoner release has been pre-approved by the Israeli parliament. At the same time, the borders will be opened for substantial aid and fuel to enter the Gaza Strip.

As long as the hostage handover and prisoner release is conducted without any breach by either side, the process will continue in a similar manner for the following three days.

The temporary truce can be extended by 24 hours for every extra ten hostages Hamas releases.

Once that period expires then hostilities will resume and Israeli has been emphatic about its twin war aims to destroy Hamas and bring back all of the hostages.

The Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin said on Wednesday the agreement on a ceasefire and release of hostages was “a step forward of immense importance”.


First batch of hostages released early Saturday (By Jacquelin Magnay, The Australian)

Cardinal Parolin: Hostage agreement is a ‘very important’ step forward (Vatican News)


Israel-Hamas war live: Israel vows to continue ‘intense’ fighting for at least two months after conflict pauses on Friday (The Guardian)

Israel, Hamas to start four-day truce on Friday; IDF arrests director of Gaza hospital (SMH)