December 10, 2023

Israel, the United States, and Hamas reached a tentative agreement to free dozens of women and children held hostage in Gaza in exchange for a five-day pause in fighting, the Washington Post reported on Saturday. The agreement involves freezing combat operations for at least five days, with the release of an initial 50 or more hostages in smaller groups every 24 hours. Overhead surveillance will monitor ground movement to police the pause, and the agreement also aims to allow in significant humanitarian aid.

There was no immediate comment from the White House or the Israeli prime minister’s office on the Post report. The hostage release could begin within the next several days, according to people familiar with the agreement.

Since Hamas’s attack on October 7, during which at least 240 Israelis were taken into captivity in Gaza, families of those held hostage have organized to call on the government and international bodies to act for the captives’ release. Thousands attended the rally in Tel Aviv on November 12, including former President of Israel, Reuven Rivlin, and singer Shlomo Artzi.

Haim Rubinstein, the spokesperson for a families’ activist group, said in an interview on Monday that “members of the families [of the kidnapped] are sitting in their homes, anxious about the fate of their loved ones, and they want to do something, right now.” Their plan is to “arrive in Jerusalem and meet with the Prime Minister, with a clear demand: return all of them, now.”

In a statement on Tuesday, Prime Minister Netanyahu said, “Our hearts are always with the abductees and their families. Since the beginning of the war, we have been working continuously to free our abductees, including exerting increasing pressure since the beginning of the ground maneuver.”