Gaza Border [Israel]: The death toll in Gaza from the Israeli offensive since October 7 has risen to 14,854, with 5,850 children among the casualties, CNN reported, citing Hamas authorities in the Strip.
Obtaining current figures has become a challenging task due to Israel's ongoing air and ground campaign, CNN reported, adding that the Palestinian Health Ministry in Ramallah, on Monday, reported 12,700 casualties, drawing data from sources in the Gaza Strip.
Recent health updates indicate communication disruptions in Gaza, hindering accurate data collection, the report noted.
The chief of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Martin Griffiths, stood by the casualty figures they quoted, adding that they rely on data from Gaza.
"We don't put these figures out without thought," CNN reported Griffiths as saying.
Meanwhile, before the multi-day truce takes hold starting Friday, Israeli ground forces intensified shelling in northern Gaza.
The pause, set to begin at 7 am (local time), includes the release of the first group of 13 hostages held by Hamas since October 7.
As part of the four-day cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, civilian hostages are to be released on Friday afternoon in exchange for Palestinian prisoners, Qatar announced on Thursday, according to CNN.
According to Majed Al-Ansari, a spokesperson for Qatar's foreign ministry, the ceasefire will begin at 7 am (local time) while 13 women and child captives are to be released at 4 pm.
According to Al-Ansari, the list of captives scheduled to be freed has been sent to the Israeli intelligence service, Mossad.
The Qatari spokesperson stated that Mossad will provide the Qataris with a list of Palestinian inmates who are likely to be released. "Whenever we have both lists confirmed, this is when we can begin with the process of getting people out," the official went on to say, according to CNN.
The prisoners will be transferred from two jails, Damon and Megiddo, both southeast of Haifa, to the Ofer prison, south of Ramallah in the occupied West Bank, for final Red Cross examinations, according to the report.
Earlier, on Wednesday, an Israeli official told CNN that the truce would begin at 10 am local time on Thursday, followed by the release of at least 50 women and children among the more than 230 people being held prisoner in Gaza.
However, those preparations were postponed late Wednesday, just hours before the cease-fire was supposed to begin.
"Nothing is finalised until it's actually happening. And even amid the process, changes might occur at any moment," Israel Defence Forces (IDF) spokesperson Daniel Hagari said in his daily press briefing on Thursday.
According to CNN, Hagari said the Israeli army continues to fight in the Gaza Strip "at this hour," pointing out that once the pause goes into effect, the soldiers of the Israeli Defence Forces will be stationed along the "truce lines" established inside the territory.
The conflict in Gaza escalated after the October 7 attacks by Hamas. About 2,500 terrorists breached Israel's southern border from the Gaza Strip, killing civilians and sneaking back into their territory with hostages.
Hamas terrorists are believed to have taken 240 hostages during the assault after they surged across Gaza's militarised border into southern Israel, leaving 1,200 people, mostly civilians, dead, The Times of Israel reported.
Among the hostages were civilians of all ages, including young children and the elderly, as well as Thai and Nepal nationals, according to reports.