Faced with increasing opposition from across the world to its brutal retaliation for a terrorist strike by Hamas, Israel has accepted a humiliating four-day truce. This includes the release of 150 Palestinian prisoners for 50 Israeli hostages.

Reuters reported that Israel is also ready to release 300 Palestinians for a further release of hostages by Hamas.

Qadura Fares, head of the Commission for Prisoners' Affairs in the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority, told ‘Reuters’ that there were more than 7,800 Palestinians in Israeli prisons, including 85 women and 350 minors.

“Most were detained without charges or for incidents such as hurling rocks at Israeli soldiers, not for launching militant attacks,” Fares reportedly said.

The Qatar-mediated deal on the hostages-prisoners swap is a far cry from the oft-repeated vow of the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he would continue to conduct the carpet bombing of the Gaza strip until the last hostage is released.

The main reason for the puncturing of Netanyahu’s egoistic stance was the growing public resentment in the Western democracies over the way he was waging the war. All canons of war and international human rights law have been thrown to the winds, and there is scant regard for the image of Israel in the comity of civilised nations.

Gaza authorities say that 13,300 people, including more than 5,000 children, have been killed since the Hamas attack on Israel October 7.

A statement by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said 50 women and children will be released over four days, during which there will be a pause in fighting. And for every additional 10 hostages released, the pause would be extended by another day, it said, without mentioning the release of Palestinian prisoners in exchange.

“Israel's government is committed to returning all the hostages home. Tonight, it approved the proposed deal as a first stage to achieving this goal,” Netanyahu's office stated.

However, the Israeli Justice Ministry posted a list of about 300 Palestinian prisoners slated for release. And Hamas said the 50 hostages would be released in exchange for 150 Palestinian women and children who are held in Israeli jails.

The truce deal will also allow hundreds of trucks of humanitarian, medical and fuel aid to enter Gaza, the Palestinian group said in a statement. Israel had committed not to attack or arrest anyone in all parts of Gaza during the truce period, it added.

United States’ President Joe Biden has welcomed the deal. “Today’s deal should bring home additional American hostages, and I will not stop until they are all released,” Biden said in a statement.

The Qatar government, which is the mediator, said that 50 civilian women and children hostages would be released from Gaza in exchange for the release "of a number of Palestinian women and children held in Israeli prisons”.

The starting time of the truce would be announced within the next 24 hours, it stated.

Nevertheless, Netanyahu himself stuck to his bravado. "We are at war and we will continue the war until we achieve all our goals. To destroy Hamas, return all our hostages and ensure that no entity in Gaza can threaten Israel," he said in a recorded message at the start of the government meeting.

Not to be outdone, Hamas said in its statement: "As we announce the striking of a truce agreement, we affirm that our fingers remain on the trigger, and our victorious fighters will remain on the lookout to defend our people and defeat the occupation."

Meanwhile, in a letter to British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Scotland’s First Minister, Hamza Yousaf, said that the United Kingdom should recognise the Palestinian State “to end the political impasse in the Middle East.”

This came as Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) backed a motion calling for an immediate ceasefire with 90 votes for and 28 against. The motion won the support of all parties except the Conservatives, who called for "humanitarian pauses" instead.

That is the position taken by the UK government and the UK Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, though the Scottish Labour Party wants a full ceasefire.

In the Scottish parliament, a Scottish Labour Party amendment, tabled by Anas Sarwar and backed by the Scottish National Party (SNP) called on the International Criminal Court to investigate both sides of the conflict. This was also passed by MSPs.

Sarwar told MSPs: "For a ceasefire to work, all sides must be willing to comply. And secondly we must recognise that Hamas has made clear that it intends to repeat the October 7 massacre, intends to continue rocket fire, and tragically, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made clear that he is not willing to even consider a ceasefire.

“That's why the full force of international diplomacy must be used to create the conditions to make an immediate ceasefire a reality."

Ahead of the debate, Yousaf wrote a letter to Sunak urging him to recognise a Palestinian state within the borders set out in 1967. A similar letter was also sent to the UK Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer, urging him to back the calls.

The Scottish First Minister said the move would help to end the "political impasse that has condemned Israelis and the Palestinians to successive cycles of violence".

Yousaf, whose parents-in-law recently escaped Gaza, told MSPs: "It's only with full recognition of Palestine as a state in its own right that we can truly move forward towards a two-state solution."

The UK government previously said it would only recognise a Palestinian state at the "right time". A spokesperson for the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office said: "As the prime minister has said, we continue to support a just solution to the conflict for both sides and remain committed to a two-state solution that protects the peace and security of both Israelis and Palestinians, with the West Bank and Gaza part of a viable and sovereign Palestinian state."

While 138 UN members, including nine in the EU, recognise a Palestinian state, the United States and most large European countries, do not. However, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said last week that his government would seek to recognise Palestinian statehood.

On Tuesday, the majority of South African lawmakers voted in favour of a motion calling for the closure of the Israeli embassy and the cutting of diplomatic ties until Israel agrees to a cease-fire in Gaza. Before the vote, Israel withdrew its Ambassador from South Africa.