SAWT BEIRUT INTERNATIONAL

| 4 March 2024, Monday |

Hamas, Israel agree to extend Gaza truce as mediators work to free hostages

Hamas announced on Thursday that it had agreed to extend a ceasefire with Israel in Gaza for a seventh day. Israel’s military confirmed earlier that the ceasefire with Hamas would be prolonged to facilitate ongoing mediation efforts aimed at securing the release of hostages held in Gaza.
“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,” the Israeli military said, without specifying a timeframe.

“A short time ago, Israel was given a list of women and children in accordance with the terms of the agreement, and therefore the truce will continue,” the Israeli prime minister’s office said in a statement.

Mediating nation Qatar also confirmed the extension on Thursday.

“Palestinian and Israeli sides reached an agreement to extend the humanitarian truce in the Gaza Strip for an additional day under the same previous conditions, which are a ceasefire and the entry of humanitarian aid, within the framework of the joint mediation of the State of Qatar,” Qatar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Majed al-Ansari said in a statement.

The conditions of the ceasefire, including the halt of hostilities and the entry of humanitarian aid, remain the same, according to the spokesperson from Qatar, which has been a key mediator between the warring sides, along with Egypt and the United States.

There had been pressure to extend the pause to allow more hostage releases and additional aid into devastated Gaza, with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken arriving in Israel for talks Wednesday night.

The truce has brought a temporary halt to fighting that began on October 7 when Hamas militants poured over the border into Israel, killing 1,200 people and kidnapping about 240, according to Israeli authorities.

Israel’s subsequent air and ground campaign in Gaza has killed nearly 15,000 people, mostly civilians, according to Hamas officials, and reduced large parts of the north of the territory to rubble.

The truce agreement allows for extensions if Hamas can release another 10 hostages a day, and a source close to the group said Wednesday that it was willing to prolong the pause by four days.

But with just an hour to go before the truce was due to expire, Hamas said its offer to free another seven hostages, and hand over the bodies of another three it said were killed in Israeli bombardment, had been refused.

Both sides had earlier said they were ready to return to fighting, with Hamas’s armed wing warning its fighters to “maintain high military readiness… in anticipation of a resumption of combat if it is not renewed,” according to a message posted on its Telegram channel.

IDF spokesman Doron Spielman said troops would “move into operational mode very quickly and continue with our targets in Gaza,” if the truce expired.

    Source:
  • alarabiya