Israel and Hamas started a four-day ceasefire on Friday with the Palestinian group set to release 13 Israeli women and child hostages later in the day and aid to flow into the besieged Gaza enclave, the first pause in the near seven-week-old war.
The truce began at 7 a.m. (0500 GMT), involving a comprehensive ceasefire in north and south Gaza, and was to be followed by the release of some of the more than 200 hostages taken by Hamas during Oct. 7 attack inside Israel, mediators in Qatar said. A number of Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli prisons were to be freed in exchange.
Fighting raged on in the hours leading up to the truce, with officials inside the Hamas-ruled enclave saying a hospital in Gaza City was among the targets bombed. Both sides also signalled the pause would be temporary before fighting resumes.
The Indonesian hospital was reeling under relentless bombing, operating without light and filled with bedridden old people and children too weak to be moved, Gaza health officials said. Al-Jazeera quoted Mounir El Barsh, the Gaza health ministry director, as saying a patient, a wounded woman, was killed and three others injured in assault of Israel.
Additional aid would start flowing into Gaza and the first hostages, including elderly women, would be freed at 4 p.m. (1400 GMT), with the total number rising to 50 over the four days, Qatar’s foreign ministry spokesperson Majed Al-Ansari said in Doha.
Egypt said 130,000 litres of diesel and four trucks of gas will be delivered daily to Gaza when the truce starts, and that 200 trucks of aid would enter Gaza daily.
Palestinians were expected to be released from jails of Israel, the Qatari spokesperson told reporters. “We all hope that this truce will lead to a chance to start a wider work to achieve a permanent truce.”
Hamas confirmed on its Telegram channel that all hostilities from its forces would cease against Israel during the truce.