The temporary pause in fighting will continue for another 24 hours.
The truce between Israel and Hamas has been extended for a seventh day, sources from both sides announced just minutes before the agreement expired.
The Israeli military said Thursday that the temporary pause in fighting in the Gaza Strip would continue “in light of the mediators’ efforts to continue the process of releasing the hostages, and subject to the terms of the agreement.”
In a separate statement, Hamas said an agreement had been reached to extend the temporary ceasefire, which initially began on Friday.
The truce will be extended for another 24 hours.
Qatar, which mediates between the two sides, said the agreement was being extended under the same conditions as in the past, under which Hamas released 10 Israeli hostages per day in exchange for 30 Palestinian prisoners.
Until the last hour, the prospect of an extension was in question, after the two sides failed to agree on the new list of Israelis to be released from Gaza on Thursday.
On the string
The extension was delayed until the deadline as Hamas said Israel had rejected a proposed list that included seven living captives and the remains of three hostages the group said had been killed in previous Israeli airstrikes . Israel later said Hamas had submitted an improved list, paving the way for an extension.
Talks between the two sides appear to be getting tougher as most of the women and children held by Hamas are released, and the Palestinian group is expected to demand larger releases in exchange for freeing men and soldiers.
“There are only a limited number of civilian hostages left,” Mohamed Elmasry, an analyst at the Doha Institute of Advanced Studies, told Al Jazeera. “The longer this goes on, the more difficult it will be for Hamas to produce civilian hostages, because it has a very limited number of them.
He added that Hamas would likely demand much greater concessions, such as a permanent ceasefire and the release of all Palestinian prisoners, to free Israeli soldiers.
“Israel is going to want the return of these hostages. The question is: at what cost,” Elmasry said.
Relief in Gaza
News of Thursday’s extension came as a relief in Gaza, where citizens were left in the dark about the status of the truce until early Thursday morning, Al Jazeera’s Tarek Abu Azzoum said in a report from the enclave.
He said the pause in fighting means “more humanitarian aid will be allowed into the Gaza Strip.” [Thursday]including water, food, medicine and even fuel.”
“Each new day of extension [of the truce] will give the Palestinians a new opportunity to be alive and have more supplies to help them alleviate the humanitarian crisis,” he said.
International pressure for such a lasting ceasefire has intensified after nearly eight weeks of Israeli bombing and a ground campaign in Gaza. Israeli attacks have killed at least 15,000 Palestinians, uprooted three-quarters of the population of 2.3 million and triggered a devastating humanitarian crisis.
Israel welcomed the release of dozens of hostages in recent days, including 16 on Thursday morning, and says it will maintain the truce as long as Hamas continues to release captives.
Yet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu insisted Wednesday that Israel would eventually resume its attacks on Gaza as it seeks to eliminate Hamas, which has ruled Gaza for 16 years.
“Once this phase of returning our abductees is exhausted, will Israel resume fighting? So my answer is an unequivocal yes,” he said. “It is impossible that we will not resume the fight until the end. »