Israeli Cabinet approves hostage deal

The Israeli Cabinet approved a deal Tuesday for a cease-fire in the country’s war against Hamas in Gaza that includes freeing 50 hostages kept by the terrorist organization inside Gaza.

The four-day cease-fire is the culmination of days of negotiations between Israel, Hamas, the U.S. and Qatar amid a brutal war that has waged for six weeks.

Hamas will release 50 of its approximately 240 hostages over the course of four days, the Israeli government announced, starting with women and children. The cease-fire would then extend an additional day for every 10 hostages released.

“The Government of Israel is obligated to return home all of the hostages,” the prime minister’s office said in a statement. “The Government of Israel, the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] and the security services will continue the war in order to return home all of the hostages, complete the elimination of Hamas and ensure that there will be no new threat to the State of Israel from Gaza.”

Negotiations over the deal in the Israeli Cabinet lasted hours into early Wednesday Israeli time, The Associated Press reported.

The Biden administration has not spoken publicly about the specifics of the deal, but reporting indicates that some Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails may be released. Deliveries of humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip are also expected to increase during the cessation of hostilities.

Given that Israel has agreed to the deal, it is expected that Hamas will also have to announce its agreement before the deal can be put into action. It is unclear when the deal will go into place.

Earlier Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said fighting will continue at the end of the short-term cease-fire.

“We are at war, and we will continue the war,” he said in remarks translated from Hebrew. “We will continue the war until we achieve all our objectives: Eliminate Hamas, return all our abductees and missing persons and ensure that there will be no element in Gaza that threatens Israel.”

The conflict began early last month after Hamas militants killed more than 1,200 Israelis in a brutal surprise assault on border communities. The responding air campaign and ground invasion of Gaza have killed more than 11,100 Palestinians, including more than 4,600 children, according to the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry.

Rising civilian death tolls in Gaza have raised concerns among Democrats, splitting the party on whether to back a longer-term cease-fire in the conflict. While progressive Democrats have urged the Biden administration to press for a cease-fire for weeks, Biden and the Israeli government have been tentative to even discuss a deal until recent days.

The Hill’s Laura Kelly contributed to this report.

This story was updated at 9:02pm.

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