hostage negotiations

Hamas to free 50 Israeli hostages in exchange for pause, prisoners

Twelve living hostages will be freed per day for four days

Kena Betancur/Getty Images

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) arrives to attend a photo opportunity with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres at the United Nations Headquarters on September 20, 2023 in New York City.

Israel is set to approve a deal to free 50 of the 240 hostages in Hamas captivity in Gaza since Oct. 7, in exchange for a four-day pause in the fighting and the release of some Palestinian prisoners, a senior diplomatic source said on Tuesday.

The deal has to be approved by the cabinet, and will go into effect the following day. The Israeli public can appeal the decision to release specific Palestinian prisoners in those 24 hours.

According to the parameters of the agreement, Hamas will free 12 living hostages — women and children — per day for four days.

After four days, Israel will agree to another day’s cease-fire in exchange for 10 more hostages. Those hostages’ whereabouts are not known, and Hamas will need to locate them.

The hostages being freed as part of this deal are Israelis, not foreign citizens. The diplomatic source said Hamas might unilaterally release Thai citizens, for a total of up to 80 hostages freed.

According to the deal, Israel will not free prisoners convicted of murder, and it will only transfer gas during the break in the fighting. The Shin Bet and IDF will not be able to operate surveillance flights for six hours per day, but the diplomatic source said they would have other ways to collect intelligence from Gaza at that time. 

Israel did not accept Qatar’s original terms, which included allowing Gazan civilians to return to the northern Gaza Strip. The IDF will continue fighting in the north after the break.

Subscribe now to
the Daily Kickoff

The politics and business news you need to stay up to date, delivered each morning in a must-read newsletter.