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What's set to happen during Friday's temporary cease-fire between Hamas and Israel


Tomorrow could bring two important developments that we haven't seen since war erupted between Israel and Hamas almost seven weeks ago. First, a temporary cease-fire is supposed to take hold in the morning. And second, Israeli hostages and Palestinian prisoners are supposed to be exchanged later in the day. NPR's Greg Myre is reporting this story from Tel Aviv. Hey, Greg.


SHAPIRO: How exactly is this expected to play out on Friday?

MYRE: So this four-day cease-fire is set to begin Friday at 7 a.m. local time. This was announced today by Qatar, the Gulf nation that brokered the deal. And then at 4 p.m., about nine hours later, Hamas is supposed to hand over 13 Israeli women and children seized when the militants attacked Israel back on October 7. Now, the names haven't been announced yet, but the militant group is holding, we know, a baby that's less than a year old. It's also holding a 3-year-old Israeli American whose parents were both killed by Hamas. In turn, Israel is to free about 40 Palestinian women and teenagers from Israeli prisons. Similar exchanges are then supposed to follow for three additional days or through Monday.

SHAPIRO: And if this works out as intended, could the cease-fire be extended beyond Monday?

MYRE: Yes, Ari, it can. If this first four days of the cease-fire go smoothly, it can keep getting extended by an additional day at a time for up to 10 days. Hamas would continue to release about a dozen or so women and children each day, and Israel would free another 40 women and teenagers daily from those currently in prison. But this cease-fire will only last a maximum of 10 days. Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Israel's goal is still to destroy Hamas. Israel is not interested in a long-term cease-fire.

SHAPIRO: Palestinian civilians in Gaza are facing terrible conditions. Can you tell us about the humanitarian aid component of this agreement?

MYRE: So they should get some relief. Israel has been bombing Gaza virtually nonstop since the Hamas attack. We're talking thousands and thousands of airstrikes, including more just this evening. The bombing is still going on. So this would be the first respite for the more than 2 million Palestinian civilians in Gaza. Also, the deal calls for additional aid to come into the territory - food, water, medicine, fuel. And this is supposed to go up to at least 200 trucks a day. That's far more than we've been seeing in the past seven weeks. So this will certainly be welcome, but a large portion of Gaza's population has been displaced, going from the northern part of the territory to the south because Israel told them to leave. Conditions are extremely rough in the south, and while the most urgent needs may be addressed here, this is by no means a permanent solution.

SHAPIRO: These negotiations have been so fraught. How great is the risk that the cease-fire doesn't last for 10 days or even for the four?

MYRE: Yeah, that's certainly possible. The conditions are very tense, very volatile. Any number of things could go wrong at any moment. The Israeli military reported ongoing fighting today in a half-dozen places in northern Gaza, where - Israel now controls much of that territory. Israeli troops and Hamas militants will remain in place during the cease-fire, so they'll still be in close proximity. A single incident could easily spiral out of control. And the coming days, even if they go well, won't resolve the hostage crisis. Hamas and other Palestinian militants will still be holding more than half of the 240 hostages they currently have. So Hamas knows this still gives it some leverage, and it's likely to make even greater demands for freeing the men and the soldiers they'll still be holding.

SHAPIRO: That is NPR's Greg Myre in Tel Aviv. Thank you.

MYRE: Sure thing, Ari. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Greg Myre is a national security correspondent with a focus on the intelligence community, a position that follows his many years as a foreign correspondent covering conflicts around the globe.