Jerusalem, Nov 27 (EFE).- The truce and agreement on the exchange of hostages for prisoners between Israel and the Islamist group Hamas, which began on Friday and was due to expire on Monday, will be extended for two more days, the Palestinian Islamist group announced.
An Israeli official confirmed there was an agreement with Hamas to extend cease-fire by two days in exchange for the release of 20 more hostages, the Israeli daily Haaretz reported.
Hamas said in a statement released via Telegram that “it has been agreed with the brothers in Qatar and Egypt to extend the temporary humanitarian truce for two more days under the same conditions as the previous truce.”
United States National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby also confirmed that “in order to extend the pause, Hamas has committed to releasing another 20 women and children over the next two days” adding that the US “would, of course, hope to see the pause extended further.”
Qatari Foreign Ministry spokesman Majed al-Ansari speaking to QNA, Qatar’s state news agency, prior to the announcement of the truce extension, Al-Ansari expressed Qatar’s hope that the truce would serve to “achieve a lasting ceasefire in the Strip and avoid the bloodshed of civilians.”
This announcement comes shortly before the expiration of the agreement, which went into effect on Friday at 07:00 local time (05:00 GMT) and was scheduled to run for four days.
Apart from a few minor glitches, both sides have respected the pact, which saw the release of 58 hostages held in Gaza and 117 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.
The fourth exchange is scheduled for Monday, and Israel has already announced that it has received a list of hostages to be released.
Among the 58 hostages released by Hamas since Friday are 19 foreigners who are not part of the pact.
The deal between Israel and the Islamist group, brokered by Qatar, Egypt and the US calls for the release of 50 Israeli hostages in exchange for 150 Palestinian prisoners, all of them minors or women.
It also includes the entry of humanitarian aid into Gaza and a clause that could extend the pact for up to ten days if Hamas agrees to release at least ten more prisoners for each additional day.
Israel declared war on Hamas on Oct. 7 following an attack by the Islamist group that included the firing of more than 4,000 rockets and the infiltration of some 3,000 militiamen into Israeli territory, killing some 1,200 people, both soldiers and civilians, and kidnapping more than 240 in Israeli communities near the Gaza Strip.
Israeli air, naval and ground forces have since counterattacked in the Palestinian enclave, where, according to the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry, more than 14,800 people have been killed, most of them children and women, and it is estimated that more than 7,000 people are missing under the rubble. EFE