Israel and Hamas extend truce for 2 days, paving way for release of 20 more hostages
Families and supporters of hostages held in Gaza gather at the public square outside of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art to demand their release, Nov. 4, 2023. (Photo: Oren Rozen/Creative Commons)

By Ron Kampeas
November 27, 2023

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The truce between Israel and Hamas that began on Friday has been extended for at least another two days, meaning that the Gaza-based terror group has pledged to release an additional 20 Israeli hostages beyond the approximately 50 it agreed to free in recent days.

Hamas, Qatar and the Biden administration all confirmed the extension of the truce, while Israeli government spokespeople declined to comment. The White House said that the 20 additional hostages will be women and children, as were the vast majority of the 40 hostages freed since Friday.

“The State of Qatar announces, as part of the ongoing mediation, an agreement has been reached to extend the humanitarian pause for an additional two days in the Gaza Strip,” Majed Al Ansari, the  spokesman for the Qatari Foreign Ministry, said on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.

“Hamas declares that it has agreed with Qatar and Egypt to extend the temporary humanitarian truce for an additional two days under the same conditions reached before,” the group said on Telegram.

Israel is set to receive another group of 11 hostages on Monday night, fulfilling the terms of its initial deal with Hamas. In addition to the truce, Israel agreed to release some 150 Palestinian women and minors in Israeli prison on security offenses. It will release three Palestinian prisoners for each additional hostage freed by Hamas.

President Joe Biden has taken a leading role in brokering the agreement, and Qatar and Egypt have acted as intermediaries.

According to the mechanism in place under the existing truce, if Hamas relays to Israel by midnight the names of 10 hostages it plans to release the following day, Israel will extend the truce for 24 hours.

Hamas terrorists killed 1,200 people, mostly civilians, in their Oct. 7 attack on Israel, and abducted some 240. Israel launched counterstrikes and a ground invasion with the aim of deposing the terror group.  More than 13,000 Palestinians have been killed in the fighting, according to the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry, including thousands of children. It is not known what portion of that number are combatants, and what portion have been killed by misfired rockets aimed at Israel.

A growing group of progressive lawmakers and activists in the United States has called for a ceasefire in the conflict, which Israel has rebuffed because it would leave Hamas in power. Israel has vowed to resume the fighting following the truce, a stance the Biden administration has backed.

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