Relatives and supporters of Palestinians held in Israeli prisons stage a sit-in in front of the Red Cross in the West Bank city of Ramallah on November 21, 2023, calling for a deal to be brokered between Israel and Hamas for their release, in exchange for Israeli hostages taken on the October 7 attack by Hamas militants. AFP
The truce, widely expected to go into force on Thursday but delayed during the night, had been put back over "the names of the Israeli hostages and the modalities of their release", said the official, who has knowledge of the negotiation process but asked to remain anonymous.
Lists of those to be freed had been exchanged by both sides, he added. Questions were also being raised over Red Cross access to the captives before they would be released into Egypt, he said, and whether the Red Cross would have access to those who remained.
When the ceasefire would go into effect would be announced by mediator Qatar, "in co-ordination with the Egyptians and the Americans, in the coming hours today", he added.
Under the deal, a humanitarian pause will be followed by releases of an initial 50 captives from Israel and 150 Palestinian prisoners.
All of those to be freed under the three-to-one ratio are either women or aged 18 and under.
A senior Hamas official reached by phone told AFP that there were "obstacles linked to the situation on the ground", hoping that there would not be "a mistake that has a negative impact on the truce or prevent it happening".
But "mediators are shuttling between the two sides and the atmosphere is still constructive", he added.
Qatar's Foreign Ministry spokesman Majed Al-Ansari said Thursday that talks were "continuing and progressing positively".
The timing of the pause "will be announced within the next few hours", he said in a statement.