If there are no last minute unforeseen events – in these lands nothing is less foreseen than an unforeseen event – Israel and the fundamentalist group Hamas begin this Thursday a four-day truce with the option of extending it depending on the expansion of the list of Israeli hostages who can return to their homes. Not all of the 239 will be in the hands of Hamas and Islamic Jihad after being kidnapped on October 7, but perhaps not just the 50 agreed upon in the agreement stitched together between bombs, evacuations, accusations and threats by Qatar, Egypt and the US.

While the bombings and fighting intensified in the Gaza Strip and Israel and Hamas confirmed ten in the morning as the time for the ceasefire to come into effect, the Lebanese pro-Iran group Hezbollah indicated that it was joining the calm in the face of its great enemy in a border that has experienced the most explosive month since the 2006 war.

The head of Mossad, David Barnea, was in Qatar to oversee the details of a complex and unprecedented device in the region and to receive the first list of chosen hostages. After 48 days of traumatic captivity, he will begin the gradual process of liberating 30 children and 20 women (eight are his mothers) in the first batch of the four scheduled until Sunday. The ceasefire window could remain open beyond the four agreed days (depending on the parties and mediators) although it could also close much sooner (depending on the combat front full of tunnels).

In exchange for the return of dozens of its own, Israel will suspend massive military pressure on Gaza and release a minimum of 150 Palestinian prisoners – including dozens of minors under 18 years of age and women – convicted of belonging to a terrorist group and inciting violence. , attacks or attempted attacks. The Israeli authorities released the list of 300 prisoners likely to be released if Hamas releases more children and women. The established ratio is three Palestinians for every Israeli. 19 of them were convicted of attempted murder as a 14-year-old Palestinian woman seriously injured an Israeli woman living in her neighborhood in East Jerusalem. Or Israa Jaabis sentenced to eleven years in prison for detonating a gas cylinder against a police post, injuring an officer in 2015. As expected in a matter of strategic importance, the Supreme Court rejected the appeal against her release presented by a association of victims of terrorism.

The dramatic day will begin somewhere in the Palestinian enclave when Hamas transfers 10 Israelis to Egypt amidst great confidentiality and mistrust. It will do so taking advantage of the time slot between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. in which Israel cannot activate reconnaissance drones. At the Rafah border crossing, the International Red Cross will receive the children and women who will pass to Israeli soldiers, including doctors. At that time, the Army will cease its attacks, pausing the response to “Black Saturday” to “destroy Hamas and return the kidnapped” in an offensive that has caused thousands of deaths – among civilians and militiamen – and destruction in the Gaza Strip.

Several Israeli hospitals are prepared to receive the kidnapped at a health, nutrition, psychological and social level. That will be when the long-awaited meeting with their families will take place, who until hours before did not know if they would finally see them. And the children do not know that some of their relatives did not survive the Hamas pogrom on the kibbutzim.

The fact that 190 Israelis and other nationalities remain in Gaza is one of the most frequent criticisms among those who oppose the agreement in Israel beyond their fear that four days later it will be more difficult to resume the operation. In this sense, the Israeli media indicates that Hamas will do everything possible at the media level to increase international pressure. From Ramallah, the Palestinian National Authority calls for “the total cessation of Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people and the entry of humanitarian aid.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu clarified that it is only a pause now to save hostages and that the war will continue “until Hamas is finished, all the kidnapped are returned and Gaza cannot threaten us again.” Israel’s hope is to increase both the number of hostages released to more than 80 under the agreement and the alertness of its soldiers. Nobody forgets what happened in the 2014 war when, after the announcement of a truce, a Hamas commando killed three soldiers who were searching for tunnels.

Hamas’s hope, for its part, is to increase the number of days of truce taking into account that in recent weeks, it has lost numerous troops and infrastructure, especially in northern Gaza under partial control of the Army. For the leader of Hamas, Yahia Sinwar, the hostages can give him more hours of ceasefire, hoping that they will be part of his lifeline at the group level (armed arm), governmental (control of Gaza) and personal (his head is the most requested by Israel).

The hope of the Gaza Strip, where two-thirds of its inhabitants abandoned their homes during the offensive, is that the humanitarian pause becomes a definitive truce. For now, it will receive a greater amount of fuel and humanitarian aid. According to Islamist spokesman Taher Al Nunu, “as part of the agreement, between 200 and 300 trucks of humanitarian aid to the north and south of Gaza, including eight with fuel.”

Until calm returns to the area this Thursday, the Israeli Army is intensifying its air strikes and ground advances to strengthen its defenses during the truce. In the last day, the Hamas Government denounced the death of dozens of people and the siege of hospitals while Israel announced dozens of dead Hamas militiamen and showed a video inside the network of tunnels under the Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken plans to return to the area in a few days with several goals summarized in 4 no’s: do not allow Hamas to continue as a government and armed group, do not let Gaza fall into a humanitarian crisis, do not increase the civilian toll dead and not extend the war to Lebanon and other areas of the Middle East.