TEL AVIV, Nov 27, (AP): The spokesman for Qatar’s Foreign Ministry said Monday that an agreement has been reached to extend the Israel-Hamas truce for another two days. Qatar, along with Egypt, has been the key mediator in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas. The announcement comes on the final day of a four-day truce between the warring sides. Earlier, Israel said it would extend the cease-fire by one day for every 10 additional hostages released. Hamas has also said it hopes to extend the four-day truce, which came into effect Friday after several weeks of indirect negotiations mediated by the United States, Qatar, and Egypt. But Israel also says it remains committed to crushing Hamas’ military capabilities and ending its 16-year rule over Gaza after its Oct. 7 attack into southern Israel.
That would likely mean expanding an offensive ground from devastated northern Gaza to the south, where hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have crammed into United Nations shelters despite, and where dire conditions persist the increased delivery of aid under the truce. Israel will resume its operations with “full force” as soon as the current deal expires if Hamas does not agree to further hostage releases, with the goal of eliminating the group and freeing the rest of the captives, government spokesperson Eylon Levy told reporters on Monday . Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office later said negotiations are still underway over the last planned exchange, expected on Monday, without providing further details.
Two Egyptian officials said talks are aimed at extending the cease-fire for another four days, with one saying that both sides have agreed in principle. But that official added that violence in the occupied West Bank is complicating matters, with Hamas demanding an end to Israeli military raids. Hundreds of Palestinians have been arrested and scores killed in clashes with Israeli forces since the war began. The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media. The release of dozens of people – mostly women and children who were among the roughly 240 captured by Hamas and other militants during the Oct. 7 raid that ignited the war – has rallied Israelis behind calls to return the rest of them.
Sixty-two hostages have been released – almost all during the current truce. Previously, one was also freed by Israeli forces and two were found dead inside Gaza. “We can get all hostages back home. We have to keep pushing,” two relatives of Abigail Edan, a 4-year-old girl and dual Israeli-American citizen who was released Sunday, said in a statement. Hamas and other militants could still be holding up to 175 hostages – enough to potentially extend the cease-fire for two and a half weeks – but those include a number of soldiers, and the militants are likely to make much greater demands for their release. On Sunday, Hamas freed 17 hostages, including 14 Israelis, and Israel released 39 Palestinian prisoners – the third such exchange under the truce. Most hostages appeared to be physically well, but 84-year-old Elma Avraham was airlifted to Israel’s Soroka Medical Center in life-threatening condition because of inadequate care, the hospital said.
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