Israel, Hamas extend ceasefire amid ongoing hostage talks

Israel and Hamas have agreed to prolong their ceasefire by at least one additional day, announced the Qatari Foreign Ministry on Thursday. The extension of the “humanitarian truce” occurred moments before the expiration of the initial six-day ceasefire.

Majed Al Ansari, spokesperson for Qatar’s Foreign Ministry, stated that the truce extension would maintain the previous conditions, namely a ceasefire and the provision of humanitarian aid.

Simultaneously, Reuters reported, citing an Israeli military statement, that mediators were actively engaged in negotiating the release of hostages in Gaza in exchange for Palestinian prisoners.

The Israeli statement, quoted by Reuters, declared, “In light of the mediators’ efforts to continue the process of releasing the hostages and subject to the terms of the framework, the operational pause will continue.”

This development follows Hamas’ release of 16 more hostages in exchange for 30 Palestinian prisoners on Wednesday. However, Reuters reported that Hamas claimed Israel rejected an additional offer involving seven women and children, as well as the bodies of three other hostages, as part of the conditions for extending the truce.

In response to the October 7 rampage by Hamas, where gunmen allegedly killed 1,200 people and took 240 hostages, Israel has vowed to eliminate the militant group governing Gaza.

Before the truce, Israel’s seven-week bombardment of the territory resulted in the death of over 15,000 Palestinians, according to health authorities in Gaza.