Friday is the soonest the deal with Hamas would take effect, Israeli official says
A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:
Israel says the deal to implement a four-day pause in fighting in Gaza has been delayed until Friday at the earliest. So that means Israel continues to strike Gaza in an attempt to destroy Hamas, and families on both sides have to wait to bring their loved ones home.
We're joined now by NPR's Lauren Frayer in Ramallah in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Lauren, what's holding up this agreement?
LAUREN FRAYER, BYLINE: Well, Israel's national security adviser says talks with Hamas are still progressing and that the release of hostages held in Gaza and Palestinian detainees held in Israel will not take place, as you mentioned, before tomorrow. He didn't give an explanation for the delay. The deal, as we understand it, is this - a four-day pause in fighting, 50 hostages released by Hamas in stages, like one batch per day, and 150 Palestinian prisoners and detainees released from jails in Israel.
Now, just to note, this isn't a published document, so we're relying on both sides to describe what they have agreed on, and there could be discrepancies. For example, last night in a speech, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the International Committee for (ph) the Red Cross will visit all of the hostages inside Gaza and deliver medicine. But today, a Red Cross spokesperson told me the group isn't aware of any such agreement to do that. It's ready to do so if called upon, though.
MARTÍNEZ: So that means it's got to be pretty stressful for a lot of people. What kind of things are people saying?
FRAYER: Yeah. I mean, for families of hostages kidnapped in Israel on October 7, they're, like, on tenterhooks waiting for this release. Here's a man named Nimrod Schacher. My colleague Brian Mann met him in a Tel Aviv square where protesters have gathered. And he's angry at the Netanyahu government for not getting a deal to free all of the roughly 240 hostages.
NIMROD SCHACHER: The majority of the Israelis will demand this from our government, and we don't care what are the means to get this deal.
FRAYER: Meanwhile, here in the West Bank, I've been meeting families of some of those 150 Palestinian prisoners and detainees who are slated for release. Most of them are from the West Bank in Jerusalem. They're mostly teenage boys, a few teenage girls and several dozen adult women, some of whom have been in Israeli jails for years. But any homecoming preparations here are really muted because of the toll that this war has taken just south of here in Gaza.
I spoke this morning with a woman named Sahar Hantoolee. She's a French and English teacher here in Ramallah. And she said she's been in agony.
SAHAR HANTOOLEE: Because our people in Gaza are suffering from now 47 days. They are martyrs there physically, and we are martyrs here psychologically.
FRAYER: Meanwhile, an Israeli military spokesperson says forces continue to bomb Gaza, some 300 targets there in the past 24 hours. He says they're using ground forces, drones and precision-guided missiles. Israel says this is all aimed at destroying Hamas.
MARTÍNEZ: Lauren, this deal isn't in trouble, is it?
FRAYER: I mean, it's hard to tell. Like, it's not unusual for temporary cease-fires to be delayed or to falter once they do start. There are a lot of details to work out - as I mentioned, the discrepancy over what Netanyahu said last night and what the Red Cross is saying today. I mean, remember that the Hamas leadership is still believed to be underground in tunnels under Gaza. And negotiators that I've spoken with have told me this requires passing notes, like, down through the tunnels, then up to Gaza above ground, out to Egypt and to negotiators in Qatar and the U.S. and in Israel. And so not only did it take time to get this deal - weeks of negotiations - but it takes time to negotiate the implementation of all of the details, to work it out.
MARTÍNEZ: That's NPR's Lauren Frayer. Lauren, thanks.
FRAYER: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
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