It has been revealed that the truce between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip will be extended by two days.
This is according to information revealed by the Palestinian group and mediator Qatar on Monday.
The truce will open the way for further release of hostages and prisoners.
With just hours to go before the humanitarian pause was to end early Tuesday, 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 war when its militants made an unprecedented attack on southern Israel last month, said it was drawing up a new list of hostages for release.
Late Monday, on the last day of the initial four-day truce, Israel’s military said 11 hostages were “now in Israeli territory”.
Qatar said the 11 Israelis would be freed in exchange for 33 Palestinian prisoners, most of whom it said are minors.
The freed Israelis are dual nationals of France, Germany and Argentina, Qatar added.
Israel has been clear that the pause is designed to allow Hamas to free more of the roughly 240 hostages it has been holding since the October 7 attack which also killed 1,200 Israelis and foreigners, according to officials in the country.
But there have been widespread calls to build on the break in hostilities to allow more 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.
Most of Gaza’s people have been displaced and they are short of essential goods.
The extension announcements came after US President Joe Biden, top EU envoy Josep Borrell and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg added to calls for a longer break in fighting.
Over the initial four days, a total of 50 hostages and 150 Palestinian prisoners were to be exchanged.
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