New York, Nov 24 (IANS): Indian-American Congressmen have welcomed a four-day truce in the Israel-Hamas war, which came into effect on Friday after nearly seven weeks of intense fighting.
Hamas will release about 13 hostages at 4 p.m. on Friday, and the number would rise up to 50 over the four days, according to a deal brokered by Qatar, Egypt and the US.
"I am encouraged by the prospects of a temporary negotiated ceasefire and strongly urge the (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu administration to accept the proposed terms being reported in return for the release of hostages and the delivery of essential humanitarian aid," Congressman Ami Bera said in a statement.
Bera, who represents the 6th district of California, hoped that President Joe Biden's administration would be able to leverage the momentary pause to advance negotiations towards a more promising future for the Israelis and the Palestinians.
"My commitment to advocating for a two-state solution remains unwavering, where Israelis and Palestinians can live side-by-side in peace. It may seem like an impossible dream, but the alternatives are simply untenable," Bera said.
Congressman Shri Thanedar said the recently announced temporary pause offers a glimmer of hope in the "complex landscape" of the Israel-Hamas war.
"The path to peace remains challenging, but this temporary cessation of hostilities represents possibility and hope. It is my sincere desire that the conflict ends soon with the removal of Hamas, and we are able to move forward to a place of stable coexistence," Thanedar said in a statement posted on X.
Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal said that the temporary cessation of hostilities is a "much-needed signal of progress and an important step towards safety and security for all civilians".
"I hope that this temporary ceasefire will extend further and ensure the release of every single hostage, as well be the beginning of a negotiated permanent ceasefire and the development of a political solution so that Israelis and Palestinians can live side by side with security and self-determination," Jayapal said in a statement posted on her website.
The Congresswoman said she spent the last few weeks meeting with multiple families of hostages, and is "grateful" that 50 of those hostages will return to their loved ones.
The Indian-American leaders hoped that the agreement will allow for much-needed food, water, fuel, and other humanitarian aid to enter strife-torn Gaza.
At least 200 trucks loaded with humanitarian aid and medical supplies, including four fuel trucks, will be allowed into the Gaza Strip, Xinhua news agency reported.
The ceasefire will also facilitate the reopening of the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt to allow the return of stranded Palestinians waiting in the Arish area, according to the Palestinian Embassy in Cairo.
The ceasefire was originally due to start on Thursday but was delayed as the two sides were finalising the details of hostage release.
According to the Israeli authorities, 235 people are held captive in Gaza, including Israelis and foreign nationals, and about 40 of them are reportedly children.
So far, four civilian hostages have been released by Hamas -- one Israeli soldier was rescued by Israeli forces and three bodies of hostages have reportedly been retrieved by Israeli forces.
Since the war started, more than 14,800 people have died in Gaza, over 1,200 in Israel and 223 in the West Bank.