Negotiations came down to the wire, with last-minute disagreements over the hostages to be freed by Hamas in exchange for another day of a halt in fighting. The Qatari foreign ministry said the truce was being extended under the same terms as in the past, under which Hamas has released 10 Israeli hostages per day in exchange for 30 Palestinian prisoners. Israel ’s Defence Force confirmed the news on X, formerly known as Twitter.
They wrote: “In light of the mediators' efforts to continue the process of releasing the abductees and subject to the terms of the agreement, the ceasefire will continue.” It comes as Israel released another group of Palestinian prisoners in exchange for 16 hostages freed earlier by Hamas in Gaza.
On Wednesday, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed Israel will resume its campaign to eliminate Hamas, which has ruled Gaza for 16 years and orchestrated the deadly attack on Israel that triggered the war. He said: “After this phase of returning our abductees is exhausted, will Israel return to fighting? So my answer is an unequivocal yes. There is no way we are not going back to fighting until the end.”
Today’s truce announcement came after Hamas said Israel had rejected a proposed list including seven living captives and the remains of three who the group said were killed in previous Israeli airstrikes. Israel later said Hamas submitted an improved list, paving the way for the extension.
Negotiators had been working well into Thursday to hammer out details for a further extension of the truce. The expectation had been to extend the pause in fighting for at least another day or two, with the focus on releasing women and children. The talks appear to be growing tougher as most of the women and children held by Hamas are freed, as the militants are expected to seek greater releases in return for freeing men and soldiers.
Earlier this week Israeli hostages released by Hamas shed light on the conditions they endured in captivity for the last seven weeks. Most of the 58 hostages freed under a ceasefire deal over the past three days have not spoken with the press, but through their families, some details are beginning to trickle out. Nearly two months after Hamas militants invaded Israel and dragged people out of their beds, while also killing around 1,200 more, most freed hostages are in stable physical condition. Merav Raviv, whose three relatives were released by Hamas on Friday, said they had been fed irregularly and had eaten mainly rice and bread.