Temporary cease-fire in Gaza and hostage release now expected to start Friday

Palestinians inspect the site of an Israeli strike after a military raid in the town of Tulkarem, West Bank, Wednesday, Nov. 22, 2023. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)

DEIR AL-BALAH, Gaza Strip (AP) — An agreement for a four-day cease-fire in Gaza and the release of dozens of hostages held by militants and Palestinians imprisoned by Israel appeared to have hit a last-minute snag. A senior Israeli official said it would not take effect until Friday, a day later than originally announced.

The diplomatic breakthrough promised some relief for the 2.3 million Palestinians in Gaza who have endured weeks of Israeli bombardment, as well as families in Israel fearful for the fate of their loved ones taken captive during Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack that triggered the war.

Israel’s national security adviser, Tzachi Hanegbi, announced the delay late Wednesday, without providing a reason. Negotiators were still “working to create the appropriate conditions” for the cease-fire and swap, according to Majed al-Ansari, a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry of Qatar, which played a key role in mediating with Hamas.

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