Ceasefire between Israel and Hamas extended for two more days

Ceasefire between Israel and Hamas extended for two more days

The Qatari Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Monday that an agreement had been reached to extend the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas for another two days.

Qatar, along with Egypt, has been the main mediator in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas.

The announcement comes on the final day of a four-day ceasefire between the warring factions.

Israel has announced that it will extend the ceasefire by one day for every ten more hostages released. Hamas has also said it hopes to extend the four-day ceasefire that came into force on Friday after several weeks of indirect negotiations brokered by the United States, Qatar and Egypt.

But Israel also says it remains committed to crushing Hamas’s military capabilities and ending its 16-year rule over Gaza after its Oct. 7 attack on southern Israel. That would likely mean an expansion of a ground offensive from the devastated northern Gaza Strip southward, where hundreds of thousands of Palestinians are crowded into United Nations shelters and where terrible conditions continue despite increased aid deliveries under the ceasefire.

Israel will resume operations with “full force” once the current agreement expires if Hamas does not agree to further hostage releases, with the aim of eliminating the group and freeing the rest of the prisoners, government spokesman Eylon Levy told reporters on Monday .

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office later said negotiations were still ongoing over the final planned exchange, expected on Monday, without giving further details.

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Two Egyptian officials said the talks aimed to extend the ceasefire for another four days, with one official saying both sides had agreed in principle. However, this official added that violence in the occupied West Bank was making the situation more difficult and Hamas was calling for an end to Israeli military attacks.

The release of dozens of people – mostly women and children who were among some 240 people captured by Hamas and other militants during the Oct. 7 raid that sparked the war – has prompted Israelis to campaign for to initiate the repatriation of the remaining people.

62 hostages were released – almost all during the current ceasefire. Earlier, one was also freed by Israeli forces and two were found dead in the Gaza Strip.

“We can bring all the hostages home. We must keep pushing,” two relatives of Abigail Edan, a four-year-old girl and Israeli-American dual citizen who was released Sunday, said in a statement.

Hamas and other militants could still hold up to 175 hostages – enough to potentially extend the ceasefire by two and a half weeks – but that includes a number of soldiers and the militants are likely to make much greater demands for their release.

On Sunday, Hamas released 17 hostages, including 14 Israelis, and Israel released 39 Palestinian prisoners – the third such exchange under the ceasefire.

Most of the hostages appeared to be physically fine, but 84-year-old Elma Avraham was flown to Israel’s Soroka Medical Center in life-threatening condition due to inadequate care, the hospital said.

Avraham’s daughter Tali Amano said her mother was “just hours away from death” when she was taken to hospital. Avraham is currently sedated and has a breathing tube, but Amano said she told her about a new great-grandchild who was born during her captivity.

Avraham suffered from several chronic illnesses that required regular medication but was stable before her abduction, Amano said Monday.

Three Thai nationals were among those released on Sunday. With a total of 17 people released, Thailand said it was seeking the safe return of the 15 remaining Thai hostages, who represented the largest group of non-Israelis held by the militants. Many Thais work in Israel, mainly as agricultural workers.

The released Palestinian prisoners were mostly teenagers accused of throwing stones and firebombs during confrontations with Israeli forces or of less serious crimes. Many Palestinians view prisoners held by Israel, including those caught up in attacks, as heroes.

The released hostages remained largely hidden from public view, but details about their captivity began to leak out.

Merav Raviv, whose three relatives were released on Friday, said they had been eating irregularly and had lost weight. One reported eating mostly bread and rice and sleeping on a makeshift bed made of chairs pushed together. Hostages sometimes have to wait for hours to use the toilet, she said.

According to the United Nations, the ceasefire allowed deliveries of food, water and medicine to expand to the largest volume since the start of the war. But the 160 to 200 trucks a day are still less than half of what Gaza imported before the fighting, even as humanitarian needs have risen sharply.

Source: www2.cbn.com

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