More hostages set for release on Monday, Israel's war cabinet discussed ceasefire extension

Tel Aviv, Nov 27 (IANS) More Israeli hostages and Palestinian prisoners are expected to be released Monday as Israel’s war cabinet met to decide on Hamas demand for extending the four day ceasefire by another four days until coming Friday to facilitate more exchanges.

The four-day truce restored some calm and peace to war-torn Gaza and was slated to end Monday. However as details for a final hostage release were worked out, talks intensified toward extending the cease-fire between Israel and Hamas to clear logistical hurdles that could have possibly come in the way of faster release of hostages and prisoners, media reports said.

Israeli and Palestinian leaders expressed support for extending the truce and freeing more militant-held hostages and Israeli-held prisoners. Israel has long offered to extend the cease-fire by one day for every 10 additional hostages released, USA Today reported Monday. Qatar, which played a central role in mediating the agreement, said it too was hoping to extend the truce, which includes provision for an extension of one extra day for every ten hostages Hamas is ready to free.

“What we are hoping for is that the momentum that has carried from the releases … and from this agreement of four days will allow us to extend the truce beyond these four days, and therefore get into more serious discussions about the rest of the hostages,” Qatar Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Majed Al-Ansari, had told CNN.

US President Joe Biden also wanted to extend the pause in fighting during his remarks on Sunday.

Hamas wanted the ceasefire extended by another four days until Friday for more prisoner/hostage swaps.

“The Islamic Resistance Movement Hamas seeks to extend the truce after the 4-day period ends through serious efforts to increase the number of those released from imprisonment as stipulated in the humanitarian cease-fire agreement,” Hamas said in a Telegram post.

Israel’s war cabinet, in a preliminary meeting, discussed the possibility of extending the temporary truce with Hamas when it met Sunday evening, an Israeli source told CNN.

The source said conditions for an extension remain unchanged from the original agreement, which means Hamas needs to release an additional 10 hostages for each additional day’s pause in the fighting. Israel and Hamas reached a deal last week for a four-day pause in fighting and the release of at least 50 women and children held hostage in Gaza in exchange for a number of Palestinian women and children in Israeli jails.

The truce, meanwhile, also allowed the entry of “a larger number of humanitarian convoys and relief aid.”

The first release of hostages and prisoners took place on Friday, and subsequently on Saturday and Sunday.

Egyptian officials also said talks are aimed at extending the cease-fire for another four days, and one saying both sides have agreed in principle, according to multiple media reports.

Negotiations were also continuing over which Palestinian prisoners would be freed, media reports said.

But the Egyptians also said Hamas is demanding an end to Israeli military raids in the occupied West Bank.

The Palestinian Authority, which has administrative control over the West Bank, was among groups lobbying for the truce extension Monday. Foreign Minister Riad al-Malki said the extension was crucial “so that Israel does not continue attacking”.

An estimated 240 people were taken hostage by militants in the October 7 raid into Israel, and more than 1,200 people were killed, according to Israeli authorities. Another 77 Israeli soldiers have died in the subsequent military operation in Gaza. The Gaza Health Ministry says more than 14,000 Palestinians have been killed in the fighting.

There are efforts to return hostages held in Gaza by groups other than Hamas, a top US official said Sunday.

“We also are aware that it’s not just Hamas holding hostages. Palestinian Islamic Jihad, another terrorist group that participated in the brutal massacre on October 7, is holding some — and other groups who are not directly affiliated but have loose connections to Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad are also holding hostages,” national security adviser Jake Sullivan told NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday.

“Part of the effort here is to ensure all of these groups somehow get connected to a deal in which every last possible hostage in Gaza who is still alive gets turned back over and reunited with their families.”



Back to top button