This development, significant for its potential to alleviate the ongoing humanitarian crisis, marks a rare moment of accord between Hamas and Israel.
Under the ceasefire, a humanitarian exchange is set to occur: Hamas will release a group of 13 women and children, the first in a series of 50 hostages, while Israel plans to free 39 Palestinian women and children today, as part of a larger commitment to release 150 prisoners.
The ceasefire follows a period of escalated conflict. On the eve of the agreement, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) launched heavy air and sea strikes in Gaza, resulting in significant casualties, including Palestinian journalist Amal Zuhd and his family. The IDF also dismantled an underground tunnel beneath the Al Shifa hospital, alleged to have been used by Hamas.
The truce is a direct response to the intense hostilities that began on October 7, 2023, when Hamas executed a comprehensive land, sea, and air assault on Israel. This initial attack led to over 1,200 deaths, including many Israelis and foreign nationals.
The ongoing Israeli airstrikes in Gaza, which followed, have resulted in a staggering death toll. According to the Gaza Health Ministry, as of November 23, 2023, over 14,300 Palestinians, including more than 6,000 children, have lost their lives, making it one of the deadliest conflicts for children in recent history.