Gaza truce and hostage release postponed 'last minute'

An explosion is seen following an Israeli airstrike in the Gaza Strip, as seen from southern Israel, Thursday, Nov. 23, 2023.
An explosion is seen following an Israeli airstrike in the Gaza Strip, as seen from southern Israel, Thursday, Nov. 23, 2023. Copyright Leo Correa/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved
By Euronews with AP
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Israel’s national security adviser said late Wednesday that ceasefire talks with Hamas were still ongoing, and the hostage release will not take place before Friday.

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There will be no truce between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas or hostage release at least before Friday, Israeli authorities have said. 

A Palestinian official told the AFP news agency on Thursday that a planned ceasefire in the Gaza Strip had been postponed due to "last minute" discussions over the "names of the Israeli hostages and the terms of their handover."

“Qatar, in coordination with the Egyptians and the Americans, should announce in the coming hours today” when the truce will begin, he said.

Speaking on the condition of anonymity, an Israeli official told AFP on Wednesday there would be "no pause" in the fighting. 

“Negotiations for the release of our hostages continue unceasingly.” They will not be freed "before Friday", said Israeli National Security Council head, Tzachi Hanegbi, in a press release. 

Neither source offered an explanation. 

After striking a deal on Wednesday, a pause in the fighting between Israel and Hamas plus the freeing of hostages held in Gaza in exchange for Palestinian prisoners, was planned to start on Thursday. 

The Israeli press had reported the first hostages would be freed after a truce at 10:00 a.m. local time.

Israeli authorities even invited journalists to Tel Aviv late Wednesday evening to a press centre dedicated to the "return of the hostages", starting at around midday Thursday.

The deal between Hamas and Israel had earlier been confirmed by both parties, along with Washington and Qatar, which both helped broker a temporary halt to the devastating war, now in its seventh week.

Under the agreement, the Israeli government said that Hamas would free over a four-day period at least 50 of the roughly 240 hostages taken in its 7 October attack on Israel. 

Israel would release some Palestinian prisoners in exchange. 

Egyptian state media previously said the truce would begin Thursday morning. 

Egypt also helped mediate the ceasefire agreement, which would bring the first respite to war-weary Palestinians in Gaza, where more than 11,000 people have been killed, according to health authorities.

However, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said late Wednesday his country will press ahead with the war after a ceasefire expires. Hamas made similar statements. 

Some 1,200 people were killed in Israel during Hamas' deadly raid.

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