Israel, Hamas say truce is extended - GulfToday

Israel, Hamas say truce is extended


A newly released prisoner (left) hugs a relative in Ramallah in the occupied West Bank early on Thursday. AFP

A truce between Israel and Hamas was extended on Thursday just before it was due to expire, the two sides announced, with mediator Qatar reporting it would continue for one day under the same conditions that saw hostages released in exchange for prisoners.

Minutes before the halt in fighting was due to expire at 0500GMT, Israel's military said the "operational pause" would be extended.

"In light of the mediators' efforts to continue the process of releasing the hostages and subject to the terms of the framework, the operational pause will continue," it said.

The prime minister's office subsequently confirmed the extension, saying it had received a new list of hostages.

"A short time ago, Israel was given a list of women and children in accordance with the terms of the agreement, and therefore the truce will continue," it said, without specifying for a timeframe.

Hamas meanwhile said there was an agreement to "extend the truce for a seventh day," without further details.

It had earlier said Israel initially refused to extend the truce after it offered to hand over seven hostages and the bodies of three more.

A newly released prisoner waves from a bus during a welcome ceremony in Ramallah on Thursday. AFP

Qatar, which has led the truce negotiations, confirmed the pause had been extended for a day "under the same previous conditions."

The announcement came hours after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Israel on Wednesday night, and with growing pressure for an extension of the pause.

It has brought a temporary halt to fighting that began on October 7 when Hamas militants poured over the border into Israel, killing 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and kidnapping about 240, according to Israeli authorities.

Israel's subsequent air and ground campaign in Gaza has killed nearly 15,000 people, also mostly civilians, according to Hamas officials, and reduced large parts of the north of the territory to rubble.

This photo shows a mini-bus carrying Israeli hostages released by Hamas in Ramat Gan, Israel, on Thursday. AP

The truce agreement allows for extensions if Hamas can release another 10 hostages a day, but earlier both sides warned they were ready to return to fighting.

Hamas told its fighters to "maintain high military readiness... in anticipation of a resumption of combat if it is not renewed," according to a message posted on its Telegram channel.

And IDF spokesman Doron Spielman said troops would "move into operational mode very quickly and continue with our targets in Gaza," if the truce expired.

Agence France-Presse




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