During a news conference in Qatar, a spokesperson for ongoing negotiations reported that a first batch of hostages—13 women and children—would be released Friday at 4pm local time (9am ET) after a four-day truce the Israel-Hamas war begins at 7am (12am ET).
That announcement came Thursday, after Israel’s National Security Council said in a statement late Wednesday that the Qatar-brokered deal with Hamas to release 50 hostages was delayed, and they won’t be released before Friday.
The release of the hostages, all women and children, was initially set to begin at 10am local time (3am ET) Thursday morning. According to the Israeli statement, “Talks to release our hostages are advancing and are ongoing.”
A pause in the fighting as part of the deal would also be delayed until Friday. On Thursday morning local time, Qatar said it would announce “in the next few hours” when the Israel-Hamas truce was to begin.
The 50 hostages to be released are just a fraction of the 240 that Israel says Hamas took captive during the terrorist organization’s massive October 7 surprise attack on Israel that sparked the war between the two sides in Gaza.
Early in the conflict, Hamas threatened to execute a hostage every time an Israeli airstrike hits Gazans in their homes.
A U.S. National Security Council spokesperson said in a statement late Wednesday that the hostage deal “remains agreed,” adding that the parties were “working out final logistical details particularly for the first day of implementation.”