An initial four-day ceasefire in thewent into effect Friday morning in Gaza, as part of an agreement that requires Hamas to release at least 50 hostages and Israel to release dozens of Palestinians from its prisons. The Israeli military sounded alarms in several villages near Gaza just minutes after the short-term truce began, warning of possible rocket fire, but there was no immediate news of ongoing violence between Israeli forces and Hamas, suggesting which left hope that the first hostage releases would be carried out under the agreement. The agreement would still be finalized later on Friday.
Hestarted at 7 a.m. local time, which is midnight on the east coast of the United States. The Israeli military made no official announcement at the time, but said in a statement less than two hours later that it had “completed its operational preparations in accordance with the pause battle lines.”
A spokesperson stressed in a social media post minutes after 7 a.m. local time that the suspension of hostilities was temporary and that “the war is not over yet.”
Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spokesman Lt. Col. Avichay Adraee warned that the northern Gaza Strip remains “a dangerous war zone and movement is prohibited” there, adding that people in the decimated Palestinian territory “must remain in the humanitarian zone. in the south of the Strip” and only advance towards that area along a designated highway, adding that “the movement of residents from the south of the Strip to the north will not be permitted in any way.”
Israeli troops open fire as displaced Palestinians try to return home
CBS News producer Marwan al-Ghoul watched Israeli forces open fire Friday on Palestinians who decided to risk returning to their homes in northern Gaza despite leaflets dropped by the IDF warning them against it. Al-Ghoul said thousands of displaced civilians left the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis to return north, but when they reached a crossing point in central Gaza, they encountered a line of Israeli tanks and They were attacked by Israeli forces.
Israel’s military told CBS News it was investigating reports that several people were injured in the encounter.
Al-Ghoul said that between 4,000 and 5,000 people had left Khan Younis, with some of them telling CBS News that they felt desperate because nowhere in the Gaza Strip felt safe and that they just wanted to return home.
Video recorded by CBS News showed terrified civilians fleeing Israeli forces at the crossing point as machine gun fire could be heard.
Hamas expected to release some Israeli hostages on Friday
An initial group of 13 hostages held by Hamas militants were scheduled to be released at 4 p.m. local time on Friday (9 a.m. ET), according to a spokesperson for Qatar’s Foreign Ministry. The names of those hostages were provided to Israeli authorities on Thursday, the Qatari official said.
The Red Cross would be involved in the hostage handover, but the exact location where it would take place was kept secret for security reasons, the official added. According to Qatari officials, the children will be released with their mothers and will not be separated.
“We welcome Qatar’s announcement and expect to see several hostages leaving Gaza tomorrow,” a White House spokesperson said in a statement to CBS News Thursday evening.
Under thenegotiated earlier this week From the United States, Egypt and Qatar, 50 hostages — all women and children who were kidnapped by Hamas militants during their Oct. 7 attack on southern Israel — will be released in batches over four days. They are among approximately 240 captives believed to still be held in Gaza.
Three American hostages are expected to be among those 50, according to a senior Biden administration official.
When asked by reporters on Thursday, Abigail Mor Idan, whose fourth birthday is Friday, would soon be released, President Biden responded, “fingers crossed.” Both of Idan’s parents were shot dead by Hamas.
In exchange for the hostages, the Israeli army agreed to a four-day pause in the war as well as the release of 150 Palestinian prisoners, most of them women and children, who are being held in Israeli prisons.
“Of course, our goal is for this agreement to end with a lasting truce,” Majed Al-Ansari, spokesman for Qatar’s Foreign Ministry, said at a news conference Thursday. “At this moment, of course, the limits of this agreement are these four days which are subject to a second phase, and the following phases of extending the pause through the formula of taking more hostages and, therefore, buying more time “We hope that the momentum is maintained and that this opens the door to deeper negotiations to end this violence.”
The Israeli government said in a statement Tuesday that the release of “every 10 additional hostages” on top of those 50 “will result in an additional day of pause.”
So far, only four Hamas hostages have been released.and two Israelis.
Al Ansari said he hoped the release of the Palestinian prisoners would closely follow that of the Gaza hostages. According to Palestinian prisoner rights groups, there are an estimated 7,000 Palestinians currently imprisoned in Israel, including more than 200 Palestinian children and about 75 women, and dozens of them have been arrested in recent weeks alone.
Samaher Aouad’s daughter Norhan is on the Israeli list of imprisoned Palestinians who could be released as part of the deal. Norhan was arrested at age 15 for attempting to stab an Israeli soldier nine years ago.
“The Israeli occupation stole his childhood and that’s what saddens me,” Aouwad told CBS News. “No one can replace your childhood.”
Aid trucks began entering Gaza a couple of hours after the ceasefire came into effect, through the Rafah crossing in southern Gaza with Egypt. The Reuters news agency had a live camera at the Rafah crossing showing trucks carrying fuel passing through the border gate into Gaza.
Diaa Rashwan, president of Egypt’s State Information Service, said in a statement early Friday morning that around 34,000 gallons of fuel would enter Gaza every day during the ceasefire, along with about 200 trucks carrying food, medicines and water.
“The need is so great that no matter how much aid is brought, there will certainly be more need for aid,” Al-Ansari said in Qatar.
At Kibbutz Nir Oz, Noam and Lior Peri knew that their 79-year-old father Chaim would not be among the first hostages freed.
“It’s really hard to think about how you cope, how you deal with those, probably days and nights, where you don’t even know where you are or what time it is,” Noam told CBS News.
“I have enormous faith in seeing him again,” Lior added.
Fighting in Gaza has been relentless since Hamas launched its bloody terrorist attack on southern Israel on October 7, killing more than 1,200 people, most of them civilians, according to Israeli officials.
Gaza’s Hamas-run Health Ministry says nearly 15,000 people have since been killed in Gaza by Israel’s retaliatory ground incursions and airstrikes, and the UN estimates that 1.7 million of the estimated 2.3 million of inhabitants of the enclave have been displaced from their homes.
— Imtiaz Tyab, Margaret Brennan, Khaled Wassef, Holly Williams, Lilia Luciano, Jordan Freiman and Kathryn Watson contributed to this report.