Israel, Hamas ‘agree’ to extend truce by 48 hours
AFP | Jerusalem
The Daily Tribune – www.newsofbahrain.com
A truce between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip will be extended by two days, the Palestinian group and mediator Qatar said yesterday, opening the way for further releases of hostages and prisoners.
With just hours to go before the so-called “humanitarian pause” was to end early today, Hamas said that an agreement had been reached to prolong it by 48 hours under the existing terms.
There was no immediate confirmation from the Israeli side of the extension, which was nevertheless hailed by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres as “a glimpse of hope and humanity in the middle of the darkness of war”.
Qatar - with the support of the United States and Egypt - has been engaged in intense negotiations to establish and prolong the truce in Gaza. Qatari foreign ministry spokesman Majed Al Ansari announced that “an agreement has been reached to extend the humanitarian truce for an additional two days in the Gaza Strip.”
Hamas, which runs Gaza and triggered the latest round of fighting by launching a bloody cross-border raid last month, said it was drawing up a new list of hostages for release.
Meanwhile, the office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said it had informed families of the identities of hostages to be released yesterday, the last day of the initial four-day truce. Israel has been clear that the pause is designed to allow Hamas to free more of the hostages it is holding since the October 7 attack, which killed 1,200 Israelis including many women and children, according to Israeli officials.
But both sides are under pressure to build on the break in hostilities to allow humanitarian aid to reach civilians in Gaza, where Israel’s campaign against Hamas has left almost 15,000 dead, mostly Palestinian civilians, according to Gaza’s Hamas government.