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Israel and Hamas reach deal to free 50 hostages in Gaza

Under the Qatari-mediated agreement, Hamas is expected to release 50 women and children, including three Americans, during a days-long pause in the fighting.
A woman holds portraits of hostages Erez Kalderon, 12, and of children of the Goldstein Almog family as protesters rally outside the UNICEF offices to demand the release of Israelis held hostage in the Gaza Strip since the Hamas attack Oct. 7, amid ongoing battles between Israel and the Palestinian armed group, Tel Aviv, Israel, Nov. 20, 2023.

WASHINGTON — Israel's cabinet has approved a deal with Hamas for the release of some 50 women and children during a four-day pause in the fighting, the Israeli prime minister's office said early Wednesday morning local time. 

As part of the breakthrough deal, which comes after more than six weeks of negotiations brokered by Qatar, Egypt and the United States, Israel is expected to release around 150 Palestinian women and minors held in its detention centers.

“The Israeli government is committed to the return of all abductees home,” the Israeli statement said. "Tonight, the government approved the outline for the first stage of achieving this goal." 

A senior Biden administration official briefing reporters said the agreement calls for a "full pause in military operations throughout Gaza," and could extend to the Lebanese border, where Israel and militant group Hezbollah have been trading fire. The agreement, which won't be implemented for at least another day, was structured to encourage further hostage releases, the administration official said. 

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