Israel-Hamas war, Gaza hostage release deal, 4-day truce

Families and friends of hostages held in Gaza call for Netanyahu to bring them home during a demonstration in Tel Aviv on November 21. Ariel Schalit/AP

In the first release of Hamas’ hostages held in Gaza, scheduled for Friday afternoon local time, 13 women and children will be freed, according to a spokesperson for Qatar’s foreign ministry, Majed Al-Ansari.

Al-Ansari could not provide details on who the hostages are, nor could he provide details on the route they might take due to safety reasons. However, many of the first 50 hostages are expected to come out through Egypt.

The Israeli government said their families and the families of hostages who will not be released had been notified. Al-Ansari also revealed that hostages from the same families will be released together in the first group.

Meanwhile, an Israeli official tells CNN a total of 39 Palestinian prisoners will be released Friday as part of the deal.

The timing of the release is unclear, but the Israeli official said the prisoners would not be freed until the hostages from Gaza are back in Israeli hands.

The prisoners will be taken from two jails — Damon and Megiddo, both southeast of Haifa — and driven to the Ofer prison, south of Ramallah in the occupied West Bank, for final checks by the Red Cross.

Women and male teenagers up to the age of 18 are expected to make up the released prisoners.

Here’s what else you should know:

Two more months of fighting: Israel’s defense minister says he expects the military operation against Hamas will continue “forcefully” after the brief truce, for at least two months.

No names of Palestinian prisoners: A Palestinian official told CNN he has not yet received a list of names of those expected to be released from Israeli prisons on Friday.

Biden hopeful 3-year-old American freed: US President Joe Biden said he has his “fingers crossed” that a 3-year-old American girl held hostage by Hamas will be freed on Friday. But he said he will not provide further updates until the deal is finished.

US will contact American hostage families: The US will contact family members of American hostages who are freed from Gaza “after we have confirmation they are departing Gaza,” a US official said.

Hezbollah fires rockets at Israel: Lebanese militant group Hezbollah fired 48 rockets at the headquarters of an Israeli infantry unit at Ein Zeitim military base earlier Thursday. In a statement, Hezbollah said it also fired a guided missile at Israeli Merkava tanks located near Al-Raheb, near the Israeli town of Shtula, and targeted Israeli infantry forces in the area.

The Israel Defense Forces said it “intercepted a number of the launches,” and later confirmed that it used helicopters and fighter jets to strike Hezbollah infrastructure and rocket launch sites in Lebanon, in response to the militant group’s attacks.

Medical aid group says 80 aid trucks entered Gaza from Egypt: The Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) says it received 80 trucks that entered Gaza through the Rafah crossing on Thursday. The trucks brought food, water, medical equipment, medications and general relief equipment into Gaza, the PRCS said.

A large convoy of aid trucks is lined up at the Rafah border crossing on the Egypt-Gaza border — on standby for when a pause in fighting between Israel and Hamas begins. The United Nations anticipates that aid trucks will move into the strip “immediately” after the Israel-Hamas truce commences, an official told CNN on Thursday.  

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