No pause in Gaza fighting until hostage deal with Hamas finalized, says official

An Israeli official tells AFP early Thursday thar there would be no halt in the fighting between Israel and Gaza’s Hamas rulers or any release of hostages held by the terrorists “before Friday.”

The agreement was approved by the Israeli government early Wednesday and had been widely expected to take effect on Thursday.

The official’s comments came shortly after national security adviser Tzachi Hanegbi said in a surprise announcement before midnight Wednesday that none of the hostages seized in the Hamas massacres on southern Israel on October 7 would be freed before Friday.

The negotiations for the hostages “are constantly progressing” and “the release will begin according to the original agreement between the parties, and not before Friday,” said Hanegbi.

According to the agreement, Hamas will free 50 living Israeli hostages — children, their mothers, and other women in groups of 12-13 people — for a four-day lull in fighting and the release of up to 150 Palestinian female and underage prisoners. The deal would also enable an influx of fuel and humanitarian supplies to Gaza during the pause, a first since Hamas initiated war nearly seven weeks ago when its terror members rampaged through southern Israel and slaughtered some 1,200 people, most of them civilians.

Israel has vowed to destroy the terror group and has been waging an air and ground campaign in Gaza for nearly 50 days.

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