Jerusalem (AFP) – Israel and Hamas agreed on Thursday to extend the temporary truce for another day, minutes before it expires, Qatar, which mediates between the two sides, announced.
Negotiations on extending the agreement have reached their end, with last-minute disagreements over the release of hostages by Hamas in exchange for another day of cessation of fighting.
News of the extension came as the truce was scheduled to end at 7 a.m. (0500 GMT) on Thursday. The Qatari Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that the truce was extended under the same conditions that prevailed in the past, under which Hamas releases 10 Israeli hostages daily in exchange for the release of 30 Palestinian prisoners.
The announcement came after a last-minute confrontation earlier Thursday, in which Hamas said Israel had rejected a proposed list of seven living prisoners and the remains of three the movement said were killed in previous Israeli air strikes. Israel later said Hamas had submitted an improved list, paving the way for an extension.
Negotiators were working until Thursday to work out the details of extending the truce again. It was expected that the cessation of fighting would be extended for at least another day or two, with a focus on the release of women and children.
The talks appear to be getting more difficult with the release of most of the women and children held by Hamas, and the militants are expected to seek the release of a larger number in exchange for the release of men and soldiers.
International pressure has mounted for the ceasefire to continue for as long as possible after nearly eight weeks of Israeli bombing and ground campaign in Gaza that killed thousands of Palestinians, displaced three-quarters of the population of 2.3 million people and led to a humanitarian crisis. . Israel welcomed Dozens of hostages released In recent days, it says it will maintain the truce if Hamas continues to release prisoners.
However, Netanyahu confirmed on Wednesday that Israel would resume its campaign to eliminate Hamas, which has ruled Gaza for 16 years and is coordinating the campaign. The deadly attack on Israel that sparked the war.
He asked: “After exhausting this stage of returning the kidnapped people, will Israel return to fighting?” So my answer is an unequivocal yes.” “There is no way not to return to the fight until the end.”
I’ve spoken before Visit the area US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken called for pressure to extend the truce and release the hostages. Blinken arrived in Israel late Wednesday.
So far, the Israeli attack on Gaza appears to have had little impact on Hamas’ rule, as evidenced by its ability to conduct complex negotiations, impose ceasefires between other armed groups, and organize hostage releases. Among them are Hamas leaders Yahya Al-Sanwar They will likely be moved south.
With Israeli forces in control of much of northern Gaza, a ground invasion south will likely bring an escalating cost in Palestinian lives and destruction.
Most of Gaza’s population is now concentrated in the south. The truce provided them with relief from the bombing, but the days of calm passed in a frantic rush to obtain the necessary supplies to feed their families as aid entered in larger quantities, but it is still insufficient.
The United States, Israel’s main ally, has shown greater secrecy about the impact of the war in Gaza. The Biden administration has informed Israel that if it launches an attack in the south, It has to work much more precisely.
Late Wednesday, the Israeli military said a group of 10 Israeli women and children and four Thai nationals were returned to Israel and taken to hospitals to be reunited with their families. Hamas released two Russian-Israeli women in a separate statement.
Hours later, Israel released more Palestinian prisoners, expected to reach 30 under the terms of the truce agreement.
In the West Bank, Israeli forces killed two Palestinian boys, one 8-year-old and the other 15-year-old, during a raid in the city of Jenin, Palestinian health officials said. Security footage showed a group of boys running in the street, except for one who fell to the ground bleeding.
The Israeli army said that its forces opened fire on people who threw explosives at them, but did not specify whether this referred to the boys who were not seen throwing anything. Separately, the army said that its forces killed two Islamic Jihad activists during the raid.
The Israeli hostage dilemma
The plight of the prisoners and the shock caused by the October 7 attack in southern Israel has affected me Mobilizing Israeli support for the war. But Netanyahu is under pressure to repatriate the hostages and may find it difficult to resume the offensive if more hostages are likely to be released.
Since the start of the initial truce on Friday, both sides have released women and children. Israeli officials say militants in Gaza are still holding about 20 women, all of whom will be released within a few days if exchanges continue at the current rate.
After that, the continuation of the truce depends on tougher negotiations over the release of about 126 men that Israel says are being held, including dozens of soldiers.
As for men — especially soldiers — Hamas is expected to push for a similar release of Palestinian men or high-profile detainees, a deal that Israel may resist.
An Israeli official involved in the hostage negotiations said that talks on a further extension for the release of male civilians and soldiers were still preliminary, and that an agreement would not be considered until after all the women and children had left. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because negotiations are still ongoing.
With their release on Wednesday, a total of 73 Israelis, including dual nationals, were released during the six-day truce, most of them He looks good physically but is shaky. Another 24 hostages, 23 Thais and one Filipino, were also released. Before the ceasefire, Hamas released four hostages, and the Israeli army rescued one. Two other bodies were found in Gaza.
Hamas kidnapped about 240 people during the attack on southern Israel that started the war, including infants, children, women, soldiers, the elderly, and Thai farm workers. More than 1,200 people were killed in the October 7 attack, most of them civilians.
The Israeli bombing and ground invasion of the Gaza Strip led to the deaths of more than 13,300 Palestinians, nearly two-thirds of whom were women and minors, according to the report. The Ministry of Health in the Hamas-controlled Gaza StripWhich does not differentiate between civilians and combatants.
The death toll is likely much higher, as officials have been updating the number intermittently since November 11 due to… Collapse of services in the north. The ministry says thousands of other people are missing and feared dead under the rubble.
Israel says 77 of its soldiers were killed in the ground attack. It claims to have killed thousands of militants, without providing evidence.
The Palestinians welcome the liberated prisoners
In the city of Ramallah in the West Bank, a crowd of people gathered before dawn on Thursday to receive the last batch of liberated prisoners.
The most prominent among them is Ahed Tamimi, the 22-year-old activist, who gained international fame in 2017 after a video of her slapping an Israeli soldier spread on social media.
Israeli forces arrested her on November 6 at her home in the West Bank on charges of “incitement to terrorism” through her Instagram account. Her mother said that Al Tamimi’s account had been hacked.
As soon as she got off the Red Cross bus, Al Tamimi was surrounded by a crowd of supporters and family members. A woman prevents Tamimi from kissing her and pushes her curly hair away from her face.
“I want you to show them your beautiful face. I want you to be strong,” the woman is heard saying.
Al Tamimi replied: “Of course, I am always strong.”
After that, Tamimi’s relatives transported her in a family car to her home in the village of Nabi Saleh in the West Bank.
So far, most of the released Palestinians have been teenagers accused of throwing stones and Molotov cocktails during confrontations with Israeli forces. Many of them were women who had been convicted by Israeli military courts of attempting to attack soldiers. Under the truce agreement, three prisoners were released for every Israeli hostage.
Palestinians celebrated the release of people they see as having resisted Israel’s decades-long military occupation of lands where they want to establish their future state.
A tense calm in Gaza
For the Palestinians in Gaza, the calm of the truce was overshadowed by the search for aid and horror at the extent of the destruction.
In the north, residents described entire residential buildings as being leveled in Gaza City and its surrounding areas. Muhammad Matar (29 years old), a resident of Gaza City, who along with other volunteers searches for those killed under the rubble or left in the streets, said that the smell of decomposing bodies trapped under collapsed buildings fills the air.
In the south, a truce allowed More aid will be delivered From Egypt, up to 200 trucks per day. But aid officials say this is not enough, since most of them now depend on foreign aid. Overcrowded shelters run by the United Nations are housing more than a million displaced people, many of whom are sleeping outside in cold and rainy weather.
At the Rafah distribution center, large crowds line up daily to get bags of flour, but supplies are quickly running out.
“Every day, we come here… spending money on transportation to get here, only to return home without carrying anything,” said Nawal Abu Namous, one of the women in the class.
The head of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said that about 111,000 people suffer from respiratory infections and 75,000 suffer from diarrhea, more than half of whom are under the age of five.
“We want this war to stop,” said Omar Al-Daraawi, who works in the crowded Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in central Gaza.
Jeffrey reported from Cairo and Liedman from Jerusalem. Associated Press writers Jalal Buytel in Ramallah, West Bank, and Jon Gambrell in Doha, Qatar, contributed.
Complete AP coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/israel-hamas-war.
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