An agreement between Israel and Hamas to end hostilities for four days in exchange for the release of dozens of captives and the delivery of humanitarian goods to the Gaza Strip has been delayed.

Israel has not yet said when it would halt its air and ground offensive in the coastal area, so it is unclear when the truce will actually begin. It was scheduled to begin on Thursday at 10 am (0800 GMT).

According to Israeli army spokesman Daniel Hagari, the plan to bring the hostages back from the Gaza Strip is complicated and has not yet been finalized.

Hagari stated late Wednesday night that the military was poised to carry out the first phase of the hostage exchange agreement.

It may take some time and multiple phases, he warned, but eventually all of the kidnapped people would be returned to the sealed-off coastal strip.

“The release (of hostages) will begin according to the original agreement between the parties, and not before Friday,” Israel’s security adviser Tzachi Hanegbi was reported by the Times of Israel as saying.

“The talks on the release of our hostages are progressing and will continue on an ongoing basis,” he stated.

Thursday was supposed to be the first day of the first exchange of hostages taken in Israel for Palestinian inmates.

An Israeli official was quoted by the Times of Israel as saying that the delay was because a paper ratifying the agreement would need to be signed by both Israel and Hamas before it could go into effect.

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