Hamas and Qatar announce extension of the truce in much-needed respite for people in Gaza braving weeks of Israeli bombardment.
Qatar and Hamas have announced that the truce between Israel and the Palestinian group will be extended for an additional two days, a much-needed respite from the incessant Israeli bombardment. Here is what we know about the truce extension:
How did the initial truce unfold?
- A four-day Israel-Hamas truce mediated by Qatar was expected to end on Monday morning.
- Besides a four-day pause in fighting, both sides agreed to release prisoners and captives. Hamas was to release 50 women and children held captive in Gaza while Israel agreed to release 150 women and children from Israeli prisons. Hamas took 240 captives after its deadly attack inside Israel on October 7 while about 10,000 Palestinians languish in Israeli prisons, most of them without any charges.
- Additionally, the deal would allow an increase in the flow of humanitarian aid into Gaza, which has been under a total lockdown since early October.
- Since the truce came into effect on Friday, Israel has released 150 prisoners in three batches.
- Hamas has released 69 women and children since then, including 51 Israelis and 18 foreign nationals.
- The deal allowed for the extension by one day for each extra batch of 10 captives Hamas releases.
What have Qatar, Hamas and Israel said about the extension?
- Hours before the initial truce was set to expire on Monday, Qatar and Hamas said that the agreement would be extended for two days.
- “The State of Qatar announces that, as part of the ongoing mediation, an agreement has been reached to extend the humanitarian truce for an additional two days in the Gaza Strip,” Qatari Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Majed al-Ansari said on X, formerly Twitter, on Monday.
The State of Qatar announces, as part of the ongoing mediation, an agreement has been reached to extend the humanitarian pause for an additional two days in the Gaza Strip.
— د. ماجد محمد الأنصاري Dr. Majed Al Ansari (@majedalansari) November 27, 2023
- “We have now agreed to release more hostages and extend the agreement for two days. This is good news for our people, especially the people of Gaza,” Hamas official Ghazi Hamad told Al Jazeera. “I hope we can extend it until we reach the end of this war. We want to end the war.”
- “We hope the occupation (Israel) abides (by the agreement) in the next two days because we are seeking a new agreement, besides women and children, whereby other categories that we have that we can swap,” Hamas official Khalil al-Hayya told Al Jazeera on Monday.
- The Israeli government is yet to officially confirm the truce extension.
Which prisoners and captives can be released under the extended deal?
- Despite Israel not explicitly confirming the truce, the office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on X, formerly Twitter, that 50 additional Palestinian women are eligible for release from Israeli prisons.
- This is an addition to the list of 300 prisoners slated for release that was published before the truce by Israel.
- The Israeli Army Radio announced that Hamas released a new list of captives that will be freed. This is the first list that comes as a result of the extension of the pause.
- Axios, a US-based news site, reported that the list contains 10 names.
Have there been other reactions to the truce extension?
- The extension comes in the light of negotiations between Qatar, the United States and Egypt to prolong the truce.
- The White House welcomed the extension of the pause, adding that it hoped Americans would be among the captives to be released in the next phase of exchanges.
- United Nations chief Antonio Guterres called the extension a “glimpse of hope and humanity” but also said that two days is not enough time to meet the aid needs of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.