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Greece Hails Israel-Hamas Truce for Hostage Release

Israel Hamas truce
Damage in Gaza caused by Israeli airstrikes, October 2023. Credit: Al Araby / CC BY-SA 3.0 / Wikimedia Commons

Greece, along with several EU countries, hailed the truce announced on Wednesday in Gaza between Israel and Hamas for the release of hostages.

This comes as the two sides agreed on a four-day pause in fighting where Hamas will release 50 hostages from Gaza. In return, Israel will release 150 Palestinian women and teenagers held in Israeli detention.

In the second phase of the plan, the pause in fighting will be extended by a day for every 10 further hostages released. Israel will release “up to” another 150 Palestinian detainees, if “up to” another 50 hostages are released from Gaza. Israel has published a list of 300 Palestinians who could be released in total – most are male teenagers.

“I welcome a serious development, the truce in the Middle East and the release of hostages. It is something that Greek diplomacy sought. The Greek government will continue to talk with all parties as a pillar of stability in our wider region,” Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said at the beginning of his speech in the Parliament on Wednesday.

“I would like to welcome today’s agreement on a humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza and the release of 50 hostages who were kidnapped after the terrorist attack of October 7,” Foreign Minister George Gerapetritis said in a statement earlier on Wednesday.

“The Greek government had promptly suggested and urgently raised the need for a humanitarian pause and the creation of viable humanitarian corridors. In this direction, we had taken all the necessary actions,” he noted.

“There should now be, in implementation of the agreement, an immediate and unhindered flow of humanitarian aid and the provision of medical care to those who need it, as well as intensifying the effort for definitive peace in the region,” he concluded.

Greece sent the first shipment of humanitarian aid to Gaza early in November onboard a C-130 military transport aircraft. It has also pledged to participate in a sea corridor that would offer humanitarian aid to the besieged population.

The Israel Hamas truce follows the intervention of US President Biden

The accord between Israel and Hamas is the first truce of a war in which Israeli bombardments have flattened swathes of Hamas-ruled Gaza, killed 13,300 civilians in the tiny densely populated enclave and left about two-thirds of its 2.3 million people homeless, according to authorities in Gaza.

Ahead of the announcement of the deal, Israel’s PM Benjamin Netanyahu said the intervention of US President Joe Biden had helped to improve the tentative agreement so that it included more hostages and fewer concessions.

But Netanyahu said Israel’s broader mission had not changed. “We are at war and we will continue the war until we achieve all our goals. To destroy Hamas, return all our hostages and ensure that no entity in Gaza can threaten Israel,” he said in a recorded message at the start of the government meeting.

Three Americans, including a three-year-old girl whose parents were among those killed during Hamas’s October 7th attack, are expected to be among the hostages to be released, a senior US official said.

Hamas has released only four captives to date: US citizen Judith Raanan, 59, and her daughter, Natalie Raanan, 17, on October 20th, citing “humanitarian reasons” and Israeli women Nurit Cooper, 79, and Yocheved Lifshitz, 85, on October 23rd.

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