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Qatar and France broker deal to provide aid for hostages in Gaza

Jan 17

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Qatar and France brokered a deal between Israel and Hamas on Wednesday, Jan. 17, marking the first humanitarian agreement between the warring sides since a weeklong ceasefire ended in late November 2023.. The deal offers relief to victims of the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas at a festival, where more than 1,200 people were killed and more than 240 were taken hostage.

Medicine is on its way to approximately 45 Israeli hostages following the agreement. The shipment, originating from Egypt, includes three months’ worth of medication for chronic illnesses, along with other medicines and vitamins. Among the captives are several elderly men. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) will deliver the supplies, which will then be handed over to members of Hamas.

Over 100 captives remain at the mercy of Hamas militants. ABC News reported that two hostages were killed on Tuesday, Jan. 16, and Israeli officials are demanding the return of their bodies. Hamas had previously released a video they claimed showed the bodies of two Israeli hostages killed in airstrikes.

While additional details were provided about the aid the hostages would receive in the agreement, Qatar did not specify the supplies Palestinians would be given. The timing is critical for the Gaza Strip, as a senior U.N. official cautioned famine and disease could spread if no assistance was provided.

Under U.S. and international pressure, Israel — previously sealing off all of Gaza — has removed limits on the entry of humanitarian aid. An Israeli military official suggested the U.N. could reduce delays by providing more workers and trucks. U.N. officials argue that there are too few border crossings, a hindered vetting process and widespread fighting in the territory.

At least 85% of Gazans are without homes and a quarter of the population is starving, according to the U.N. France said the current plan took a lot of effort, requiring months to organize shipments of medicines.

The agreement comes more than 100 days into the war, with rising tensions in the Middle East and a flurry of strikes and counterstrikes reported this week from various locations. In Gaza alone, more than 24,000 Palestinians have been killed, according to the Hamas-controlled Gaza Health Ministry. Israel attributes the high death toll to Hamas, claiming it fights in highly populated areas. Israel reported 190 of its own soldiers killed, with its offensive killing 9,000 militants.

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[KARAH RUCKER]

MUCH-NEEDED MEDICINE FOR HOSTAGES IN GAZA IS EN ROUTE.

THE MAJOR BREAKTHROUGH ON WEDNESDAY CAME AS QATAR AND FRANCE HELPED BROKER THE FIRST DEAL BETWEEN ISRAEL AND HAMAS SINCE NOVEMBER.

— THE AGREEMENT WILL SEE MEDICATION SENT TO ISRAELI HOSTAGES TAKEN CAPTIVE IN THE OCT. 7 TERRORIST ATTACK IN RETURN FOR ADDITIONAL AID TO PALESTINIANS IN GAZA.

MEDICINE WILL BE PROVIDED TO AROUND 45 of THE MORE THAN 130 HOSTAGES THAT REMAIN CAPTIVE.

THE SHIPMENT, COMING FROM EGYPT, INCLUDES THREE MONTHS WORTH OF MEDICATION FOR CHRONIC ILLNESSES, AS WELL AS OTHER MEDICINE AND VITAMINS.

THE MEDICINE WILL BE DELIVERED BY THE RED CROSS AND THEN HANDED OVER TO HAMAS FOR THE HOSTAGES.

TWO HOSTAGE DEATHS WERE CONFIRMED ON TUESDAY–

ISRAEL IS DEMANDING THE BODIES BACK, CLAIMING THE HOSTAGES WERE KILLED BY HAMAS.

HAMAS RELEASED A VIDEO TUESDAY SHOWING THE BODIES, SAYING THEY WERE KILLED IN AN ISRAELI AIRSTRIKE, SOMETHING ISRAEL DENIES.

FOR PALESTINIANS, QATAR DID NOT SPECIFY WHAT SUPPLIES THEY WILL GET.

BUT IT DOES COME AT A PIVOTAL TIME FOR THE GAZA STRIP.

A U.N. SENIOR OFFICIAL WARNED EARLIER THIS WEEK, IF AID IS NOT DELIVERED TO PALESTINIANS, IT WILL RESULT IN WIDESPREAD FAMINE AND DISEASE.

U.N. OFFICIALS SAY THERE ARE TOO FEW BORDER CROSSINGS, A HOBBLED VETTING PROCESS, AND WIDESPREAD FIGHTING IN THE TERRITORY–

HAMPERING ITS EFFORTS TO PROVIDE HUMANITARIAN ASSISTANCE TO THE REGION.

AT LEAST 85% OF GAZANS ARE WITHOUT HOMES AND THE U.N. REPORTS A QUARTER OF THE POPULATION IS STARVING.

FRANCE SAID THE CURRENT PLAN TOOK A LOT OF EFFORT.

THE COUNTRY SAYS IT TOOK MONTHS TO WORK OUT.

THE DEAL COMES MORE THAN 100 DAYS INTO THE WAR WITH RISING TENSIONS IN THE MIDDLE EAST.

A FLURRY OF STRIKES AND COUNTER STRIKES THIS WEEK–

FROM NORTHERN IRAQ TO SOUTHERN SYRIA TO THE RED SEA AND FROM SOUTHERN LEBANON TO PAKISTAN.

THERE ARE NO SIGNS OF TENSIONS EASING —

BUT SOME RELIEF FOR THOSE IN THE CROSSFIRE IS NOW ON ITS WAY.