Hamas and Israel have agreed to an additional two-day truce, during which there will be further mutual exchanges of hostages and prisoners. The truce began last Friday and was due to end Monday evening: the Israeli government had made it known from the start that it was prepared to grant a one-day extension for ten additional hostages released by Hamas, and that failing that, it would begin bombing the Gaza Strip again.
The extension of the suspension of fighting was announced Monday evening by Qatar, which is negotiating between the parties, and by the American government. The Israeli government has not officially confirmed the agreement, but has spoken about it implicitly by announcing that it has approved a list of 50 additional Palestinian prisoners who will be released in the coming days.
Meanwhile, on Monday evening, Hamas freed 11 hostages – 3 French citizens, 2 Germans and 6 Argentines – while shortly after midnight local time (11 p.m. Italian time), Israel released 33 Palestinian prisoners. At the moment, it is not known how many of them are women and minors. In total, during the first four days of the truce, Hamas freed 50 hostages, while 150 Palestinians were freed by Israel.
The agreement to extend the truce was welcomed by the Secretary General of the United Nations, António Guterres, who had been calling for weeks for a suspension of fighting to allow aid to Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip. Guterres commented on the extension of the truce as a “ray of hope and humanity amid the darkness of war”, and said he “strongly” hoped it would give the United Nations the opportunity to increase humanitarian aid to the country. population of Gaza.
In the early days of the truce, the United Nations delivered humanitarian aid to Gaza through Egypt’s Rafah border crossing, the only active land crossing with the strip. But the United Nations would also like to use the Kerem Shalom crossing, controlled by Israel and until now remained closed. Meanwhile, Qatar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that a BBC that negotiations are already underway to further extend the truce and that the Qatari government is “fairly confident” in the possibility of reaching an agreement.