November 24, 2023 Israel-Hamas war

By Tara Subramaniam, Christian Edwards, Thom Poole, Aditi Sangal, Tori B. Powell, Adrienne Vogt, Elise Hammond and Jessie Yeung, CNN

Updated 12:25 a.m. ET, November 25, 2023
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11:48 p.m. ET, November 23, 2023

Who is expected to be released and how might the exchange look? Here's the latest

From CNN staff

Families and friends of hostages held in Gaza call for Netanyahu to bring them home during a demonstration in Tel Aviv on November 21.
Families and friends of hostages held in Gaza call for Netanyahu to bring them home during a demonstration in Tel Aviv on November 21. Ariel Schalit/AP

In the first release of Hamas' hostages held in Gaza, scheduled for Friday afternoon local time, 13 women and children will be freed, according to a spokesperson for Qatar’s foreign ministry, Majed Al-Ansari.

Al-Ansari could not provide details on who the hostages are, nor could he provide details on the route they might take due to safety reasons. However, many of the first 50 hostages are expected to come out through Egypt.

The Israeli government said their families and the families of hostages who will not be released had been notified. Al-Ansari also revealed that hostages from the same families will be released together in the first group.

Meanwhile, an Israeli official tells CNN a total of 39 Palestinian prisoners will be released Friday as part of the deal.

The timing of the release is unclear, but the Israeli official said the prisoners would not be freed until the hostages from Gaza are back in Israeli hands.

The prisoners will be taken from two jails — Damon and Megiddo, both southeast of Haifa — and driven to the Ofer prison, south of Ramallah in the occupied West Bank, for final checks by the Red Cross.

Women and male teenagers up to the age of 18 are expected to make up the released prisoners.

Here's what else you should know:

Two more months of fighting: Israel's defense minister says he expects the military operation against Hamas will continue "forcefully" after the brief truce, for at least two months.

No names of Palestinian prisoners: A Palestinian official told CNN he has not yet received a list of names of those expected to be released from Israeli prisons on Friday.

Biden hopeful 3-year-old American freed: US President Joe Biden said he has his "fingers crossed" that a 3-year-old American girl held hostage by Hamas will be freed on Friday. But he said he will not provide further updates until the deal is finished.

US will contact American hostage families: The US will contact family members of American hostages who are freed from Gaza "after we have confirmation they are departing Gaza,” a US official said.

Hezbollah fires rockets at Israel: Lebanese militant group Hezbollah fired 48 rockets at the headquarters of an Israeli infantry unit at Ein Zeitim military base earlier Thursday. In a statement, Hezbollah said it also fired a guided missile at Israeli Merkava tanks located near Al-Raheb, near the Israeli town of Shtula, and targeted Israeli infantry forces in the area.

The Israel Defense Forces said it "intercepted a number of the launches," and later confirmed that it used helicopters and fighter jets to strike Hezbollah infrastructure and rocket launch sites in Lebanon, in response to the militant group's attacks.

Medical aid group says 80 aid trucks entered Gaza from Egypt: The Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) says it received 80 trucks that entered Gaza through the Rafah crossing on Thursday. The trucks brought food, water, medical equipment, medications and general relief equipment into Gaza, the PRCS said.

A large convoy of aid trucks is lined up at the Rafah border crossing on the Egypt-Gaza border — on standby for when a pause in fighting between Israel and Hamas begins. The United Nations anticipates that aid trucks will move into the strip “immediately” after the Israel-Hamas truce commences, an official told CNN on Thursday.  

11:27 p.m. ET, November 23, 2023

More than 14,800 people killed in Gaza, Hamas health authorities say

From CNN's Andrew Carey, Lucas Lilieholm and Eyad Kourdi

Smoke billows after an Israeli strike as flares are dropped over northern Gaza on November 22.
Smoke billows after an Israeli strike as flares are dropped over northern Gaza on November 22. John MacDougall/AFP/Getty Images

The number of people killed in Gaza from Israeli attacks since October 7 now stands at 14,854, including 5,850 children, according to information from Hamas authorities in the strip.

Getting up-to-date information on the number of fatalities in Gaza has become harder as Israel’s massive air and ground campaign grinds on.

On Monday, the Palestinian Health Ministry in Ramallah, which takes its data from hospitals and other sources in the Gaza Strip, put the number killed at 12,700.

In health updates since then, the Ramallah-based ministry said serious disruptions to communications networks in Gaza have made its own efforts at accurate data collection impossible.

The United Nations’ Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), which collects and audits data from across the occupied Palestinian territories, has continued to cite the figures originating from Gaza.

On Wednesday, UN OCHA chief Martin Griffiths told CNN the UN stood by its use of statistics from the Health Ministry in Gaza, saying his team had “triangulated [the numbers] over the years to make sure we feel confident about them.”

“We don’t put these figures out without thought,” he said.

11:26 p.m. ET, November 23, 2023

"The people of Gaza are tired," say Palestinians in the shattered enclave ahead of truce

From CNN's Mohammed Tawfeeq and Andrew Carey

Palestinians walk through the rubble of a destroyed building following an Israeli strike in Deir Al Balah, Gaza on November 23.
Palestinians walk through the rubble of a destroyed building following an Israeli strike in Deir Al Balah, Gaza on November 23. Majdi Fathi/NurPhoto/Getty Images

Palestinians in Deir Al Balah, in the center of the Gaza Strip, expressed hope for an end to the hostilities ahead of an expected truce beginning Friday.

"We hope for a truce, we are tired. The people of Gaza are tired,” said one woman who had fled south from Gaza City, the focus of Israel’s massive air and ground campaign.

“We will no longer hear the sound of aircraft and of bombardment. We will be able to sit in safety,” she told CNN, expressing hope that a pause in the fighting would hold.

A man told CNN he had fled to Deir Al Balah from the Al Shati refugee camp, located just north of Gaza City. He, too, said he wanted an end to the constant state of anxiety.

“[A truce] will be a good beginning, and the fear in us will go away,” he said.

All the people CNN spoke to talked on condition of anonymity.

Another man similarly addressed the mental respite a truce would provide.

"If there is a truce, we will be mentally relieved; the truce is a mental comfort,” he said.

A third man told CNN he hoped the truce would see an increase in aid entering the Strip — as the terms of the agreement lay out — as well as the restoration of electricity.

He expressed hope the four-day pause would become something permanent and that the war would end.

“We hope they will reach an agreement and that it will be an agreement that allows us to hold our head high,” he said.

11:21 p.m. ET, November 23, 2023

Israel expects at least 2 more months of fighting against Hamas, defense minister says

From CNN's Tamar Michaelis in Tel Aviv

Yoav Gallant visits the 91st Division's base in northern Israel, on November 11.
Yoav Gallant visits the 91st Division's base in northern Israel, on November 11. Israeli Defense Minister/Anadolu/Getty Images/File

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant says Israel’s military operation against Hamas will continue “forcefully” after the brief truce beginning Friday, and that the fighting is expected to go on for at least two more months. 

"This will be a brief pause. When it ends, the fighting will continue forcefully, and will create pressure that will allow the return of more hostages," Gallant said while visiting Israeli troops on Thursday.

"A fighting of at least two more months is expected," he added.

A tenuous agreement: The Israeli military has said the hostage handover process will be “complicated,” warning there could be changes in the deal at any moment.   

“Nothing is finalized until it’s actually happening. And even amid the process, changes might occur at any moment,” Israel Defense Forces spokesperson Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said in his daily media briefing Thursday.   

He said the Israeli army continues to fight in the Gaza Strip "at this hour," pointing out that once the pause goes into effect, the IDF soldiers will be stationed along the “truce lines” established inside the strip. 

The truce line effectively keeps Israeli troops in northern Gaza, and they won't move south during the pause in fighting, an IDF spokesperson told CNN.

This post has been updated with comments from an Israeli military spokesperson on the state of the hostage deal and fighting in Gaza.

CNN's Jeremy Diamond in Sderot and Sugam Pokharel in London contributed reporting to this post.

11:18 p.m. ET, November 23, 2023

Biden says he has "fingers crossed" 3-year-old American will be among hostages released Friday

From CNN’s Sam Fossum and Betsy Klein

US President Joe Biden crosses his fingers while responding to a question about the release of Hamas hostages after a visit to the Nantucket Fire Department on Thanksgiving today in Nantucket, Massachusetts.
US President Joe Biden crosses his fingers while responding to a question about the release of Hamas hostages after a visit to the Nantucket Fire Department on Thanksgiving today in Nantucket, Massachusetts. Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

US President Joe Biden told reporters he has his “fingers crossed” that a 3-year-old American girl being held hostage in Gaza will be among those released Friday in the Israel-Hamas hostage deal — but that he will not be providing any updates until the deal is finished.

“I’ll be able to talk to you guys tomorrow,” he told the traveling media pool in Nantucket, Massachusetts, after greeting first responders. “I’m not prepared to give you an update until it’s done.” 

When asked about Abigail Edan, the 3-year-old hostage, he said: “Keeping my fingers crossed.”

The president also said he won't give up until he has freed other Americans held abroad, like Paul Whelan, the former United States Marine, and Evan Gershkovich, the Wall Street Journal reporter, who are being held in Russia. The US classifies both as being wrongfully detained.