Four-day ceasefire kicks in as nation holds breath for first release of hostages at 4 p.m.

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US bureau chief

IDF soldiers work on armored military vehicles along Israel's border with the Gaza Strip, November 20, 2023. (AP Photo/Ohad Zwigenberg)
IDF soldiers work on armored military vehicles along Israel's border with the Gaza Strip, November 20, 2023. (AP Photo/Ohad Zwigenberg)

With the clock striking 7 a.m., the four-day truce brokered by Qatar between Israel and Hamas has come into effect.

The hours leading up to the temporary ceasefire saw rocket sirens triggered in Israeli towns bordering Gaza and reports of intense IDF shelling throughout Gaza, as the army looked to advance its mission against Hamas as much as possible in the final hours before the pause.

At 4 p.m., 13 hostages held in Gaza will be freed, followed by an undefined number of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails, according to Qatari mediators.

Over the next four days, at least 50 women and children are slated to be released, leaving an estimated 190 in the hands of Palestinian terrorists.

Over the same period, 150 Palestinian prisoners — mostly women and minors, some convicted of attempted murder — are expected to be released.

The deal incentivizes additional hostage releases, with Israel agreeing to an additional day of a truce for every ten additional hostages released by Hamas.

The deal will also enable an influx of fuel and humanitarian supplies to Gaza during the pause, which would be the first cessation of fighting since Hamas sparked the war nearly seven weeks ago when its terrorists rampaged through southern Israel on October 7, massacring some 1,200 people, most of them civilians, and taking 240 hostages.

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