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Israel and Hamas begin four-day pause in fighting

A long-anticipated four-day pause in the fighting between Israel and Hamas is due to begin now, the BBC reports.

The temporary ceasefire was due to start at 07:00 local time (05:00 GMT) and the first group of 13 hostages held by Hamas will be freed at 16:00, according to Qatari mediators.

Under the deal, Hamas will release 50 hostages from Gaza over four days and Israel will free 150 Palestinian prisoners.

More aid will also be allowed into Gaza; a top UN official says he witnessed “unspeakable suffering” while visiting the Strip.

Small arms and mortar fire, as well as an air strike, was heard by a BBC reporter close to Gaza moments before the pause was due to come into effect.

The Israel Defense Forces warn the “war is not over yet” and say the humanitarian pause is “temporary.”

Hamas’s attacks on 7 October killed 1,200 people and saw about 240 taken hostage.

Since then, Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry says more than 14,000 people have been killed in Israel’s retaliatory campaign.

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