Middle East: Ceasefire in Gaza war to begin on Friday

In the war between Israel and the Islamist Hamas, the weapons will be silent for four days starting Friday.

Middle East: Ceasefire in Gaza war to begin on Friday

In the war between Israel and the Islamist Hamas, the weapons will be silent for four days starting Friday. The pause in fighting agreed between the two sides will begin at 7 a.m. local time (6 a.m. CET) this morning, Majid al-Ansari, spokesman for Qatar's Foreign Ministry, which is mediating in the conflict, said in Doha.

With the ceasefire, which has been delayed by one day, the exchange of Israeli hostages from Hamas for Palestinian prisoners should also begin. It is also intended to make larger, urgently needed aid deliveries to the Gaza Strip possible. Al-Ansari also said that the first 13 of the hostages kidnapped by Hamas should be released on Friday at 4:00 p.m. local time (3:00 p.m. CET). These are children and women who should be handed over to the Red Cross.

Hamas's military wing confirmed the ceasefire would begin on Friday morning and last for four days. During this time, all sides would stop their military activities, a spokesman for the Kassam Brigades said. An extension to ten days is possible. For every hostage kidnapped by Hamas, three Palestinian prisoners should be released from Israeli prisons. 50 hostages are to be released within four days. These are women and young people under the age of 19.

In total, the agreement provides for an exchange of up to 100 hostages from Israel for up to 300 Palestinian inmates in Israeli prisons.

The Israeli government has not yet wanted to confirm the start of the pause in fighting. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said a preliminary list of the names of the hostages who should be released has been received. This would now be checked.

Terrorists from Hamas and other groups carried out unprecedented massacres in southern Israel on October 7th, killing around 1,200 people and kidnapping around 240 hostages to Gaza, including Germans. Of those abducted, four female hostages have so far been released by Hamas. A young female soldier was freed from the military. The army also found the bodies of two women. How many are still alive in total is unclear.

Instead of a ceasefire, air strikes again in Israel

In the Israeli border area with the Gaza Strip, sirens wailed again on Thursday because of suspected rocket attacks from the coastal strip, as the Israeli military announced. The Israeli Air Force also continued its attacks in the Gaza Strip. Within one day, more than 300 targets of the Islamist Hamas were attacked from the air, including "military command centers, underground terror tunnels, weapons depots, weapons production facilities and launch pads for anti-tank missiles," the army said. The information cannot yet be independently verified. Israel's ground troops also initially continued their attacks.

Israel: 35 projectiles fired from Lebanon into Israel

According to Israeli information, around 35 projectiles were fired from Lebanon into the southern neighboring country. In addition, terrorists fired anti-tank missiles and mortar shells. The Israeli air force and artillery then attacked several launch pads, it said. The Hezbollah militia said it hit, among other things, Israeli soldiers in the border area and a tank. It is still unclear whether there were any casualties in the mutual shelling on Wednesday.

There are concerns that the Gaza war could spread to Lebanon. Hezbollah is considered more influential and significantly more powerful than Hamas. Hezbollah is also considered Iran's most important non-state ally and is part of the self-proclaimed "Axis of Resistance", a front of militias with the aim of fighting Iran's arch-enemy Israel.

Israel arrests director of Shifa Hospital in Gaza

The Israeli military says it has arrested the director of Shifa Hospital in the Gaza Strip, Mohammad Abu Salamia. Evidence showed that under his leadership, the largest hospital in the Gaza Strip served as a command and control center for the Islamist Hamas, the army and domestic intelligence agency Shin Bet said. The director had been handed over to the intelligence service and was to be questioned as to why there had been military activity in and under the clinic. Hamas condemned the arrest and denied Israel's accusation of using the hospital for terrorist purposes.

US researchers: At least 56,000 buildings damaged in Gaza

According to US researchers, between 56,000 and 74,000 buildings have been damaged in the Gaza Strip since the Gaza war began on October 7th. This emerges from an analysis by the Decentralized Damage Mapping Group (DDMG), in which a group of US scientists are examining the attacks in the coastal area using satellite data. In the northern Gaza Strip, 40 to 50 percent of all buildings were damaged. For the analyses, the DDMG uses openly accessible data from satellite and radar technology. More than 14,500 people have been killed in Israeli attacks since October 7, according to the Hamas-controlled Health Ministry.

Opposite direction: Palestinians can travel to the Gaza Strip

Palestinians stranded in Egypt who want to voluntarily return to the Gaza Strip can enter there on Friday. This was announced by the border authority on the Palestinian side at the Rafah crossing. According to Palestinian information, more than 900 Palestinians are stranded in the coastal town of Al-Arish near Rafah.

Spain and Belgium are committed to a peace solution

The heads of government of Spain and Belgium, Pedro Sánchez and Alexander de Croo, campaigned for a peace solution during a joint trip to the Middle East. "We must now start working on implementing the two-state solution," Sánchez said in Tel Aviv, renewing his proposal for an international peace conference. De Croo said a peace agreement would require political courage on both sides. Sánchez and de Croo met with Israeli President Izchak Herzog and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as well as Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. At the same time, Sánchez called for the preservation of international humanitarian law. “We have to stop the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza,” said the socialist.