Israel-Hamas truce extended as negotiations for hostage release continue

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30th November 2023 – (Gaza) In a last-minute decision, the temporary truce between Israel and Hamas has been extended for an additional day as negotiations for the release of more hostages continue. The Israeli military confirmed the extension just moments before the truce was set to expire at 7 a.m. local time on Thursday. Hamas and Qatar also confirmed the extension of the truce.

Prior to the deadline, negotiators in Qatar, including US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, were engaged in discussions regarding the details of a potential extension. However, Hamas stated that negotiations reached an impasse, claiming that Israel had rejected an offer to extend the truce in exchange for the release of seven detained women and children, as well as the bodies of three deceased individuals allegedly killed by Israeli bombardment.

As the truce is extended, the focus remains on the release of hostages. Israel has made it clear that for each day that Hamas releases 10 “living” hostages, the truce will be extended. Mark Regev, a senior adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, emphasized Israel’s position, stating that the release of hostages is a vital condition for the continuation of the pause in fighting.

At least 140 hostages are believed to be held inside Gaza, according to Regev. Israel accepted the current agreement of a humanitarian pause to secure the release of their hostages, and this pause could be extended on a daily basis. Regev reiterated that Israel’s objective is to dismantle Hamas’ military capabilities and its rule over Gaza.

Regarding negotiations for further agreements, Regev stated that Israel is committed to the destruction of Hamas’ military infrastructure and its governance in Gaza. He stressed that Israel will not compromise when it comes to the safety and well-being of its people.

In a significant development, Israel received a new list of women and children hostages for release from Hamas, according to the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office. The office stated that the pause in fighting would resume after receiving the list of hostages in accordance with the terms of the agreement. Families of the hostages on the list have been notified.

The truce extension has had an impact on the release of hostages. So far, 70 Israelis and dual nationals, primarily women and children, have been returned. Additionally, three dual Israeli citizens and 24 foreign nationals were released outside of the agreement. On the Palestinian side, 210 individuals, mainly women and minors, have been freed from Israeli prisons. In recent days, 16 hostages, including 10 Israelis, four Thai nationals, and two Israeli-Russians, were released from Gaza. Furthermore, 30 Palestinians were freed from Israeli jails.

While the truce has allowed for the return of some hostages, the humanitarian aid crisis in Gaza remains a pressing issue. Although hundreds of aid trucks were lined up to enter Gaza from Egypt, the level of aid and fuel entering the region is still insufficient, as highlighted by United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres. Moreover, Gaza’s healthcare system has suffered a significant capacity loss of over 60% in all its hospitals.

On the ground, tensions persist as the Israeli military reportedly killed two Palestinian children in the occupied West Bank. Additionally, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) opened fire at positions in southern Lebanon in separate incidents, according to the Lebanese news agency (NNA).

Internationally, US President Joe Biden has been in frequent communication with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu since the start of the conflict. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Israel on Wednesday as the truce between Israel and Hamas approached its expiration.

Mohamed Elmasry, from the Doha Institute for Graduate Studies, described the ongoing negotiations as a “numbers game.” He highlighted that the release of Israeli civilian hostages and the remaining Israeli soldiers held by Hamas come at a high price for the Palestinian group. Elmasry pointed to the case of Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier held hostage by Hamas for five years, whose release came in exchange for the liberation of 1,027 Palestinians from Israeli prisons.