Israel-Hamas war: Deal reached on hostages, fighting pause

Wednesday, 22 November 2023 (11:17 IST)
The Israeli cabinet approved in the early hours of Wednesday a deal with Hamas which would lead to the release of Israeli hostages.
According to Israel, 50 Israeli hostages taken by the militant group Hamas during the October 7 terror attacks will be freed — all of them women and children. 
In exchange, Hamas said Israel will release 150 Palestinian women and children held in Israeli jails. 
The deal also includes a four-day cease-fire. Israel said it would extend the lull by an additional day for every 10 hostages released by Hamas.
Ahead of the deal's approval, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stressed a pause in fighting would not mean the end of the war on Hamas.
"We will continue the war until we achieve all of our war aims: To eliminate Hamas, return all of our hostages and our missing, and ensure that there is no element in Gaza that threatens Israel," he said in a video released on social media.
Netanyahu argued that under the deal "not only will the war effort not be harmed, it will enable the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] to prepare for the continuation of the fighting."
The Israeli prime minister had told the cabinet that accepting the deal with Hamas was "a difficult decision but it's a right decision."
US considers designating Houthis as terrorist group
The United States could designate Houthi rebels in Yemen as a terrorist organization following their seizure of a cargo ship in the Red Sea.
"We have begun a review of potential terrorist designations and we'll be considering other options together with our allies and partners as well" in light of the ship's seizure, National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby told reporters.
He also urged for the Houthis to "release that ship immediately — as well as the crew — and unconditionally."
Yemen's Houthi rebels, who are backed by Iran, captured the ship on Sunday along with its 25-member international crew. Days earlier, the Houthis threatened to target Israeli shipping over the conflict between Israel and Hamas militants.
The vessel, called the Galaxy Leader, is a British-owned and Japanese-operated cargo ship.
The US previously designated the Houthis as a "terrorist organization," but removed the designation in February 2021, saying the classification had complicated the response to the humanitarian crisis in Yemen.
EU says probe found no evidence of Palestinian aid reaching Hamas
The European Commission has said a review of its development aid to Palestinians had found no evidence of funds going to Hamas, and said its frozen aid program would therefore continue without delay. 
"The review found no indications of EU money having directly or indirectly benefitted the terrorist organization Hamas," the Commission's Executive Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis said. 
The EU froze its aid to Palestinians soon after the October 7 attack, with Commission President Ursula von der Leyen at the time saying it was necessary to check common claims that such donations often ended up in Hamas' hands. 
"The review has confirmed that the safeguards in place are efffective," von der Leyen said on Tuesday. "Work is now ongoing on the design of our future support to the Palestinians in view of the changing and still evolving situation." 

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