A temporary truce in Gaza between Israel and Hamas, lasting at least four days, has been delayed until Friday, according to Israel officials.
As part of the deal, there are plans for a hostage-for-prisoner swap and more much-needed aid to get into the besieged coastal territory to help civilians suffering from severe shortages of food, medicine and basic services, including power.
The truce had been set to take effect at 10am local time on Thursday (8am UK time).
Israel’s public broadcaster Kan, citing an Israeli official, reported there was a 24-hour delay in the agreement because the deal was not signed by Hamas and mediator Qatar.
The official said they were optimistic the agreement will be implemented when it is signed.
“Negotiations for the release of our captives are progressing and continue all the time,” Israeli National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi said in a statement released by the prime minister’s office.
“The start of the release will proceed according to the original agreement between the parties, and not before Friday,” Hanegbi said.
Hamas has agreed to free 50 Israeli women and child hostages held by militants in Gaza, in exchange for Israel releasing 150 Palestinian women and children from Israeli jails.
It would also mean hundreds of trucks carrying humanitarian, medical and fuel supplies would be allowed to enter Gaza, while Israel would halt all air missions over southern Gaza and maintain a daily six-hour daytime no-fly window in the north, Hamas said.
The deal, agreed following talks mediated by Qatar, will include the Red Cross visiting the hostages and bringing medicines to them, said Mr Netanyahu at a news conference.
He said that during the ceasefire, the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) will prepare for the continuation of the war.
“The war continues,” the prime minister repeated twice. “We are winning and we are going to continue to fight until we reach absolute victory.”