🔴 Israel and Hamas agree to a temporary cease fire

🔴 50 hostages will be released by Hamas militants

🔴 Will a NJ native be among the hostages released?

As Hamas prepares to release dozens of hostages it has held since the start of this latest war with Israel, a New Jersey teenager will not be among them.

Israel and Hamas reached an agreement for a four-day halt to the devastating war in Gaza, accompanied by the release of dozens of hostages held by the militant group in return for Palestinians imprisoned by Israel, mediators said Wednesday.

Israel Palestinians

The truce marks the biggest diplomatic breakthrough since Hamas' Oct. 7 rampage into southern Israel ignited a war that has devastated vast swaths of Gaza, fueled a surge of violence in the occupied West Bank and raised fears of a wider conflict across the Middle East.

Fifty hostages will be released in stages, in exchange for what Hamas said would be 150 Palestinian prisoners.

Both sides will release women and children first, and the supply of humanitarian aid flowing into the besieged territory will be ramped up.

Israel Palestinians
An installation of eyes on empty chairs symbol of the people missing and held captive in Gaza, in Tel Aviv Israel, Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2023. The hostages, mostly Israeli citizens, were kidnapped during an Oct. 7 Hamas cross-border attack in Israel and have been held in Gaza since then. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

New Jersey teen still being held by Hamas

Edan Alexander graduated Tenafly High School last year. He then went to Israel to serve in the Israeli Defense Force and was stationed near the Gaza border when Hamas militants surged into Southern Israel on Oct. 7 killing civilians and taking more than 200 hostages.

Alexander was among those confirmed to held by militants.

(Gov. Murphy's Office) (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
(Gov. Murphy's Office) (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

His mother, Yael Alexander, has been pleading for his release.

She spoke to Edan the morning of the attacks and told NBC10 her son said the scene was crazy. "It's like World War II here," he said

Shortly after the attacks, his family learned he was alive and being held, but they have heard nothing since.

Paramus native dies defending Israel

Another New Jersey native was killed defending Israel.

Itay Glisko, 20, is from Paramus and was serving with the Israeli Defense Force. His family moved to Israel when he was 2 but he still has family in New Jersey.

Gov. Phil Murphy confirmed his death on his social media on Oct. 11.

Itay Glisko, Laor Abramov
(L) Itay Glisko (Dana Glisko), Laor Abramov (Michal Halev)

"My deepest condolences are with Itay’s family during this painful time," Murphy wrote.

His sister Dana told Daily Voice Itay was not scheduled to be on duty the morning of the attack and had switched shifts with another soldier.

A pause, but not an end to the war

Even as the four-day cease fire was announced, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his forces would resume the war after the truce and keep fighting “until we achieve all our goals,” including the defeat of Hamas and the return of all hostages.

Israel Palestinians

There are concerns among Israeli military leaders that any pause in their offensive would allow Hamas militants to regroup and reinforce already entrenched positions.

Once the truce ends, airstrikes will likely resume, and troops will continue their push throughout northern Gaza before their expected foray into the south at an unknown time. Gaza residents will have to brace for a resumption of hostilities.

Deal could divide Israelis

The return of hostages could lift spirits in Israel, where their plight has gripped the country. Families of the hostages — who include babies and older adults — have staged mass demonstrations to pressure the government to bring them home.

But they could also find themselves divided as some hostages are freed and others remain in Gaza. Soldiers are likely to be the last to be released, and their families may press the government to extend the truce until they return home.

Israel Hostages Portraits Goldberg Polin

Ofri Bibas Levy, whose brother, sister-in-law and two nephews — aged 4 and 10 months — are among the captives, said the deal puts the families in an “inhumane” situation.

“Who will be released, who won’t? Will the kids be freed? Will they be freed with their mothers or not?” she asked The Associated Press before the deal was announced. “No matter which way it happens, there will still be families that will remain worried and sad and angry.”

Hamas will meanwhile get a chance to regroup after suffering heavy losses, especially if it extends the truce with additional hostage releases. Israeli troops and tanks are expected to remain in place, despite the risks of being stationary behind enemy lines.

Israel claims to have killed thousands of Hamas fighters and destroyed parts of the group’s tunnel system. But Israeli officials acknowledge much of Hamas' infrastructure remains intact. The military says 68 soldiers have been killed in ground operations.

This article includes reporting from the Associated Press and New Jersey 101.5's Dan Alexander.

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