As the clock ticked down on the expiration of the truce between Israel and Hamas, a last-minute decision led to an extension of the temporary pause, preventing an immediate return to hostilities.
The move was announced by Israel’s military just moments before the initial deadline, leaving the duration of the extension unspecified. Hamas also confirmed an agreement to extend the truce for a seventh day, with Qatar, leading the negotiations, verifying the continuation until Friday.
The pressure to extend the truce arose from the need for more time to facilitate hostage releases and deliver additional aid to the Gaza Strip.
The truce, initiated on November 24, brought a temporary peace to a conflict that began on October 7 when Hamas militants crossed into Israel, resulting in 1,200 casualties, predominantly civilians, and the kidnapping of around 240 individuals, according to Israeli authorities.
Israel’s subsequent air and ground campaign in Gaza, as reported by Hamas officials, claimed nearly 15,000 lives, primarily civilians, and left substantial parts of the northern region damaged.
The truce agreement includes provisions for extensions, contingent on Hamas releasing ten hostages daily. A source close to the group expressed willingness to prolong the pause by four days.
However, with just an hour remaining before the truce expiry, Hamas revealed that its offer to free seven hostages and provide the bodies of three individuals allegedly killed in Israeli bombardment had been rejected.
Both sides had earlier indicated readiness to resume fighting, with Hamas’s armed wing cautioning its fighters to maintain high military readiness in anticipation of potential combat resumption.
Overnight, ten Israeli hostages were freed within the agreed terms, accompanied by the release of four Thai hostages and two Israeli-Russian women outside the framework.
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