Israel-Hamas war live updates: Israel and Hamas begin temporary pause in Gaza fighting, with hostage release due soon

Ismail Haniyeh, leader of the Hamas politburo, on Friday said that the Palestinian militant group is committed to the humanitarian truce and hostage exchange agreed earlier in the week, provided Israel is as well.

Chairman of the Hamas Political Bureau, Ismail Haniyeh speaks to press as he pays a visit to Palestinian photojournalist Ashraf Amra, a freelancer for Turkiye’s premier news agency Anadolu who was severely injured on his hand by Israeli army fire while covering a protest demonstration, at the Basaksehir Cam and Sakura City Hospital in Istanbul, Turkiye on September 22, 2023.

Cem Tekkesinoglu | Anadolu | Getty Images

The comments were reported by Reuters.

Hamas had earlier in the day said that Haniyeh would give a speech, according to a Google-translated Telegram update.

Hopes have mounted that Hamas and Israel will observe the terms of the four-day truce and hostage swap, which would mark the first de-escalation in a war that has ravaged Israel and the Gaza Strip since Oct. 7. The concession is only a temporary step, with Israeli officials previously expressing the war is not over despite this brief cessation of hostilities.

The World Health Organization is “extremely concerned” over the safety of patients remaining at the stormed Al-Shifa hospital in the Gaza Strip, amid ongoing evacuation efforts.

“We’re extremely concerned about the safety of the estimated 100 patients and health workers remaining at Al-Shifa,” said WHO spokesperson Christian Lindmeier, in comments reported by Reuters.

The WHO, U.N. and Palestine Red Crescent Society have been organizing evacuations of medical facilities in the Gaza Strip, which have depleted their fuel, medicine and food supplies and are no longer able to function in a hospital capacity. Patients are being taken to medical complexes in the south of the Gaza Strip, which is not as exposed to bombardment.

Two evacuations have been carried out at the Al-Shifa hospital, with a first effort on Sunday retrieving 31 premature babies, who could no longer receive critical care from depowered life support machines at the facility. The second evacuation removed 190 patients and their companions earlier in the week.

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The Israel Defense Forces have released video footage of the welcoming preparations for the anticipated handover of 13 Israeli hostages held by Hamas, due at 4 p.m. local time.

Among necessities such as medical provisions and fresh clothes, the army has also laid out toys.

“After the initial reception and medical treatment, they will continue to hospitals where they’ll be reunited with their families,” the IDF said.

The first batch of Israeli hostages is expected to be exchanged for 39 Palestinian women and teenage boys, who were imprisoned in Israel.

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Red Cross officials wait outside Israel’s Ofer Prison as thousands of displaced Palestinians go to check on their homes as the 4-day humanitarian pause begins for prisoner exchange and aid in Ramallah, Gaza on November 24, 2023. 

Mostafa Alkharouf | Anadolu | Getty Images

A first group of Palestinian prisoners are leaving Damon and Megiddo prisons in northern Israel and are in the process of being transferred to the Ofer military jail in the occupied West Bank, the Israel Prisoner Service told NBC News.

This marks a preparatory step toward the release of a first batch of hostages of Israeli and Palestinian civilians under a swap agreement struck between Israel and Palestinian militant group Hamas. Under the deal, which includes a four-day truce, a total of 50 hostages abducted by Hamas on Oct. 7 will be traded in for 150 jailed Palestinian people.

Red Cross officials wait outside Israel’s Ofer Prison as thousands of displaced Palestinians go to check on their homes as the 4-day humanitarian pause begins for prisoner exchange and aid in Ramallah, Gaza on November 24, 2023. 

Mostafa Alkharouf | Anadolu | Getty Images

The exchange of Friday, due to take place in under two hours at 4 p.m. local time, will see the release of 39 Palestinian prisoners — 24 women and 15 teenage boys.

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan retained a sharp tone against Israel, accusing the country of “war crimes” in its treatment of Palestinian civilians, hours after the start of a truce in the Gaza Strip.

“Israel, which commits a war crime by cutting off electricity, water and food, is trying to prevent the oppression of the people in Gaza from being heard by cutting off their communication with the outside,” Erdogan said in a video message sent to the International Strategic Communication​​​​​​​ Summit in Istanbul, according to Turkish state news media Anadolu.

Erdogan has been scathing in his criticism of Israel throughout its offensive in the Gaza Strip, pronouncing it a “terror state” for its impact on Palestinian civilians. The Turkish leader has deployed several humanitarian convoys to deliver aid to the Gaza enclave.

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The Palestine Red Crescent Society said on social media that it received two ambulances and 85 trucks carrying aid from the Egyptian Red Crescent branch.

The trucks brought in supplies such as food, water, medical equipment, and medication.

Humanitarian assistance has been coming in through the Rafah crossing that borders Egypt, amid rising hopes that the four-day temporary truce agreed between Israel and Hamas will allow more relief resources to come in and be safely distributed across the embattled Gaza Strip.

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Soldiers return to Israel from the Gaza Strip.

Christopher Furlong | Getty Images News | Getty Images

The Israel Defense Forces said they have completed preparations to receive the first set of hostages due to be returned to Israel from the Gaza Strip later on Friday.

“As part of the preparations, the IDF has readied several locations dedicated to the initial reception of the released hostages, including with necessary medical provisions and support,” the force said on Telegram. “After the initial reception and medical treatment, the released hostages will continue to hospitals, where they will be reunited with their families.”

Under an agreement with Hamas, Israel will receive 13 captives held by the Palestinian militant group on Friday, in exchange for 39 Palestinian civilians that were detained by Israel. A total of 50 hostages abducted by Hamas and 150 Palestinian people held by Israel are due to be swapped over the course of a four-day truce.

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Displaced Palestinians, taking shelter in hospitals and schools, walk amid destruction as a result of Israeli attacks to check on their homes and collect their items remain intact as the 4-day humanitarian pause begins for prisoner exchange and aid in Khan Younis, Gaza on November 24, 2023.

Ashraf Amra | Anadolu | Getty Images

More than a million internally displaced people (IDP) are now sheltering at facilities in the Gaza Strip run by the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine, the organization said in a Thursday report based on figures valid as of Nov. 22.

Displaced Palestinians, taking shelter in hospitals and schools, walk amid destruction as a result of Israeli attacks to check on their homes and collect their items remain intact as the 4-day humanitarian pause begins for prisoner exchange and aid in Khan Younis, Gaza on November 24, 2023. 

Ashraf Amra | Anadolu | Getty Images

“The average number of IDPs per shelter has surpassed 9,000, indicating a significant level of overcrowding considering that the standard shelter capacity is up to 2,000 people,” the agency said. “On average UNRWA shelters are hosting four and a half times more IDPs than their intended capacity.”

Internally displaced Palestinians from the Gaza Strip are seen in their camp in Shuhada Al-Aqsa hospital, in Deir el-Balah, in the central Gaza Strip on November 12, 2023, as they express their support for Hamas and the Palestinian Hamas movement. 

Majdi Fathi | Nurphoto | Getty Images

Bombardment and Israeli evacuation instructions have prompted hundreds of thousands of Palestinian civilians to flee their homes, largely heading toward the south of the Gaza Strip. UNRWA has repurposed many of its school facilities to offer shelter.

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Twenty-eight premature babies retrieved from the Al-Shifa hospital were taken on Nov. 20 to be hospitalized in Egypt, transported by the Palestine Red Crescent Society.

Anadolu | Anadolu | Getty Images

Ten ambulances of the Palestine Red Crescent Society set out on Friday to evacuate wounded and sick civilians from the Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital in Khan Yunis, the PRCS said on social media.

The effort is a joint venture with the U.N.

The PRCS, U.N. and the World Health Organization have been carrying out operations to evacuate civilians stranded in collapsed, bombarded or blockaded hospitals and move them in facilities in the south of the Gaza Strip or in Egypt.

Earlier this week, the PRCS participated in a second evacuation at the Gaza enclave’s largest medical facility, the formerly functional Al-Shifa hospital.

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Israel will release 39 Palestinian prisoners on Friday as part of a captive swap and humanitarian pause agreement struck between the country and Hamas, Qadura Fares, Palestinian commissioner for prisoners, told Reuters.

The Palestinian civilians due to be returned their freedom will comprise 24 women and 15 male teenagers.

These inmates will be handed over to the International Committee of the Red Cross at Israel’s Ofer military jail at around 4 p.m. local time, when 13 Israeli hostages held by Hamas are also due to be released.

“After the Red Cross receives the (Palestinian) prisoners, the ones from Jerusalem will go to Jerusalem and the ones from the West Bank will gather in Betunia municipal council where their families will be waiting,” Fares told Reuters.

A combined 50 hostages from Israel and 150 Palestinian detainees will be exchanged by the two sides over the course of a four-day cessation of violence that came into effect earlier on Friday. The terms are part of a deal struck between Israel and the Hamas under the auspices of Qatari, Egyptian and U.S. mediation.

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The Israel Defense Forces said that they killed the commander of naval forces in Khan Yunis, Amar Abu Jalalah, alongside another operative of the Palestinian militant group in an airstrike.

CNBC could not confirm the IDF social media report.

The Israeli military has set out dismantling Hamas and eliminating its command force as one of the key objectives of its war campaign in the Gaza Strip, along with the release of hostages held by the militants. The IDF has claimed to have killed multiple senior commanders and agents of Hamas to date.

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Trucks carrying humanitarian aid begin to move into Gaza Strip through the Rafah border crossing with Egypt on Nov. 24, 2023.

Anadolu | Anadolu | Getty Images

Aid trucks have begun to enter the Gaza Strip as part of the cease-fire and hostage release deal between Israel and Hamas.

Four tankers of fuel and four of cooking gas were transported from Egypt to U.N. humanitarian aid organizations through the Rafah crossing, the Israeli agency for the Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories said on social media.

Trucks carrying fuel and food aid crossing into Gaza Strip through Rafah border crossing with Egypt on November 24, 2023, in Rafah, Gaza. 

Abed Rahim Khatib | Anadolu | Getty Images

The supplies are exclusively intended to help operate essential humanitarian infrastructure in the Gaza enclave, COGAT noted.

“This was approved by the government of Israel as part of the pause and the framework for the release of the hostages agreed with the United States and mediated by Qatar and Egypt,” the agency said.

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The number of captives held by Palestinian militant group Hamas could be slightly higher than previously estimated by Israel.

A member of the public looks at a wall displaying pictures of people still held hostage in Gaza, on October 26, 2023 in Tel Aviv, Israel. 

Dan Kitwood | Getty Images

In a Sky News interview, senior Hamas official Basem Naim said the group’s armed unit, the al-Qassam brigades, have conveyed that roughly 200 Israeli soldiers were abducted during the terror attacks of Oct. 7, along with roughly 50-60 civilians comprising women, children and foreigners.

He said, however, that the concrete numbers were difficult to tally, because of ongoing Israeli bombardment and because of the number of Hamas groups holding hostages.

Israel had estimated 240 captives were detained by Hamas.

“We need security conditions so that it is safe to release them,” Naim said, confirming that 50 of the hostages would be returned in exchange for 150 of Palestinian civilians detained by Israel, over the course of a brokered four-day humanitarian pause in fighting.

He refuted claims that the Israel Defense Forces had discovered weapons and militarily purposed tunnels at the Al-Shifa hospital in the Gaza Strip, saying Israel had yet to prove its allegations. The IDF has supplied multiple clips and photos as evidence since its incursion at the Al-Shifa hospital. CNBC could not independently verify the materials.

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Fighting between Israel and Palestinian militant group Hamas has only temporarily suspended, an Israel Defense Forces spokesperson stressed, urging Palestinian civilians to continue southward evacuations of the embattled north of the Gaza Strip.

This picture taken from southern Israel near the border with the Gaza Strip shows smoke billowing after an Israeli strike on north Gaza on November 23, 2023, amid ongoing battles between Israel and the Palestinian Hamas movement. 

John Macdougall | AFP | Getty Images

“The war is not over yet,” Avichay Adraee said, according to an IDF social media update. “The humanitarian pause is temporary. The northern Gaza Strip is a dangerous war zone and it is forbidden to move north.”

He went on, “For your safety, you must remain in the humanitarian zone in the south.”

Israel has accepted a four-day limited truce as a component of an extensive hostage release deal, but officials have so far emphasized that the brief halt in fighting does not currently represent the start of a more lasting peace.

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The first limited pause in fighting formally began earlier on Friday, the child of long diplomatic labor that will see a first batch of 13 hostages abducted by Hamas on Oct. 7 released later in the day. A number of Palestinian people detained by Israeli forces will be allowed to return home, in kind.

It remains to be seen whether both sides — unequivocal in their condemnations of each other until the last moment — will adhere to the terms of the agreement.

Sirens were still sounding within the first few hours of the freshly brokered peace, according to two updates from the Israel Defense Forces on Telegram.

The Israeli military further said it “completed its operational preparations according to the combat lines of the pause,” winding down its campaign after a spate of eleventh-hour fighting. The force said that prior to the cease-fire coming into effect, earlier this morning, it destroyed a tunnel it claims was present at the Al-Shifa medical complex, once the largest functional hospital in the Gaza Strip, and said it continued to hit “terror targets” — which CNBC could not independently verify.

In the Gaza Strip, militant group Hamas on Thursday called for the truce, painstakingly brokered by Qatar, Egypt and the U.S., to allow for extensive humanitarian aid deliveries, including food, medical supplies necessary to restart 26 of the enclave’s now resource-depleted hospitals and critical fuel supplies to operate hospitals, pumping wells and sewage facilities, according to a Google translation of a Telegram post.

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Families of Israeli hostages held by Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip protest outside the ministry of defence in Tel Aviv calling on November 21, 2023.

Ahmad Gharabli | Afp | Getty Images

Israel and Hamas have agreed to a pause in fighting in Gaza to allow for the release of 50 hostages held by the militant group in exchange for 150 Palestinians held in Israeli prisons and also to allow for more aid to enter the enclave.

What are the details?

Under the deal, the two sides agreed to a four-day truce so that 50 women and children under the age of 19 taken hostage could be freed in return for 150 Palestinian women and teenagers in Israeli detention.

The 50 hostages, among about 240 taken by Hamas in their Oct. 7 raid on Israel, are expected to be released in batches, probably about a dozen a day, during the four-day ceasefire.

Sides to the deal have called the break in hostilities “a humanitarian pause”. The pause will be extended by a day for each additional batch of 10 hostages released, Israel said in a statement.

Hamas said Israel had agreed to halt air traffic over the north of Gaza from 10 a.m. (0800 GMT) until 4 p.m. (1400 GMT) each day of the truce and to halt all air traffic over the south for the entire period. The group said Israel agreed not to attack or arrest anyone in Gaza, and people can move freely along Salah al-Din Street, the main road along which many Palestinians have fled northern Gaza where Israel launched its ground invasion.

Qatar’s chief negotiator in ceasefire talks, Minister of State at the Foreign Ministry Mohammed Al-Khulaifi, said that under the deal there would be “no attack whatsoever. No military movements, no expansion, nothing.” He said Qatar hoped it would “be a seed to a bigger agreement and a permanent cease of fire.”

Who are the hostages being released?

Hamas has not released a full list of names of those being held in Gaza. A U.S. official said the group had said it needed a pause “to locate and determine where people are”. Not all the hostages taken on Oct. 7 were being held by Hamas fighters.

Among the 50 women and children under the age of 19 being released by Hamas are three U.S. citizens, including a girl who turns 4 on Friday, the U.S. official said.

Who negotiated the deal?

Qatar played a large mediation role. Hamas has a political office in Doha and the Qatari government has kept channels of communication open with Israel, even though unlike some other Gulf Arab states it has not normalised ties with Israel.

The United States also played a crucial role, with U.S. President Joe Biden holding calls with Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the weeks leading up to the deal.

Egypt, the first Arab state to sign a peace deal with Israel and which has long played a mediation role over the decades of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, was also involved.

— Reuters

Israel’s economy is expected to grow 2% in 2023, down from a prior estimate of 2.7%, the Finance Ministry said on Thursday citing the effects of Israel’s war with Hamas.

For 2024, the ministry projected growth of 1.6% as its main estimate based on a war that will continue through the year but with the most intense fighting ending in the first quarter and largely contained to the southern border with Gaza.

But a more rapid recovery from the war that would end in early 2024 could lead to growth of 2.2% while a war that continues into 2025 and a slower recovery would mean stagnant growth of just 0.2%.

It noted that prior to the war it was set to raise its 2023 forecast to 3.4%, and the war’s impact would be 1.4 percentage points.

The main factor weighing on growth, the ministry said, is poor consumer sentiment that will likely translate into largely flat private spending, Israel’s main growth driver, while exports look to dip 0.6% this year.

The economy grew 6.5% in 2022.

“The war situation is characterized by particularly high levels of uncertainty, but its impact on the economy goes beyond any security incident experienced by the State of Israel during the last two decades,” said a report from the ministry’s chief economist’s office ahead of discussions to update the state budget for 2023 and 2024.

— Reuters

Photos published via Getty Images on Thursday shows the damage sustained in the Gaza Strip amid Israel’s ongoing military campaign, a collapsed residential area of the Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza and smoke billowing after an Israeli airstrike in northern Gaza.

A view of damage at Al-Shafi’i Mosque and destruction in the area after Israeli attacks in southwestern of Gaza City, Gaza on November 23, 2023.

Anadolu | Anadolu | Getty Images

A top view of the collapsed residential area of the Nuseirat Refugee Camp following an Israeli army’s airstrikes, as residents and personnel conduct search and rescue operation around the site in Deir Al Balah, Gaza on November 23, 2023.

Anadolu | Anadolu | Getty Images

A view of the collapsed residential area of the Nuseirat Refugee Camp after Israeli airstrikes, as residents and personnel conduct search and rescue operations around the site in Deir Al Balah, Gaza, on Nov. 23, 2023.

Anadolu | Anadolu | Getty Images

This picture taken from southern Israel near the border with the Gaza Strip shows smoke billowing after an Israeli strike on north Gaza on November 23, 2023, amid ongoing battles between Israel and the Palestinian Hamas movement.

Menahem Kahana | Afp | Getty Images

Recently appointed British Foreign Minister David Cameron expressed hope that a hostage release and humanitarian deal agreed between Israel and Hamas “can be delivered,” according to a Google-translated readout from the Israeli prime minister’s office.

David Cameron, the new UK foreign secretary and former prime minister, views a home destroyed in last month’s Hamas attack with Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen (R) on November 23, 2023 at kibbutz Be’eri, Israel.

Christopher Furlong | Getty Images

“Today, obviously, it’s important we talk about this potential humanitarian pause. I think it’s an opportunity to crucially get hostages out and to get aid into Gaza. There’s never an excuse for this sort of hostage taking. All the hostages should be released,” Cameron said.

“I hope everyone who’s responsible and behind this agreement can make it happen, to bring relief to those families, including, of course, there are British nationals who have been taken hostage. And so that, let’s hope that that can be delivered. “

Cameron was in Israel on Thursday, in a trip that included a visit to the Kibbutz Be’eri community, one of the sites ravaged by the Hamas terror attack of Oct. 7.

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