- The latest developments:
- Hamas says that Israel refused to receive seven women and children and the bodies of three other hostages in exchange for extending the truce
- Israel says there is no agreement on the release of the hostages, so the army is ready to resume military operations against Hamas in the Gaza Strip
GAZA/JERUSALEM (Reuters) – The truce between Israel and Hamas is set to end at 0500 GMT on Thursday, with time running out on efforts to extend a six-day truce and exchange hostages held in Gaza for Palestinians. Prisoners.
The truce, which extended its first four days, brought the first respite in the bombardment of Gaza, where much of the coastal territory of 2.3 million people was turned into wasteland in response to the deadly attack by Hamas militants on southern Israel on October 7.
Doron Spielman, an Israeli army spokesman, said in a press conference on social media that no agreement had been reached on the release of the following hostages.
He added, “Therefore, if this framework ends, the (Israeli army)… is in full position and ready to relaunch our operations, our military operations against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.”
Hamas, which released 16 hostages in exchange for 30 Palestinian prisoners on Wednesday, said that Israel had refused to receive seven more women and children and the bodies of three other hostages in exchange for extending the truce.
Hamas said in a statement, “Despite confirmation through intermediaries that this group is all the detainees of the agreed upon category that the movement (Hamas) has.”
Hamas had previously said that a family of three Israeli hostages, including the youngest hostage, 10-month-old Kfir Bibas, was killed during the Israeli bombing of the Strip.
Israeli media, citing Israeli officials, reported that the army would resume attacks on Gaza at 7 a.m. (0500 GMT) if the government did not receive a list of the names of hostages to be released that met its criteria by then.
The military wing of the Hamas movement asked its fighters in the Gaza Strip to prepare to resume fighting with Israel if the temporary truce is not renewed.
The movement said in a statement, “The Al-Qassam Brigades ask its active forces to maintain high combat readiness in the final hours of the truce.”
Israel has vowed to annihilate Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, in response to the group’s attack on October 7, when Israel says militants killed 1,200 people and took 240 hostage.
Before the truce, Israel bombed the Strip for seven weeks and killed more than 15,000 Palestinians, according to health authorities in the coastal Strip.
Release all hostages
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Tel Aviv early Thursday, his third visit to the region since the October 7 attack, and is scheduled to meet with Israeli leaders to discuss extending the temporary truce and boosting humanitarian aid to Gaza.
“Looking to the next two days, we will focus on… doing everything we can to extend the truce so that we can continue to take out more hostages and bring in more humanitarian aid,” Blinken said during his stop in Brussels.
The White House said in a statement that US President Joe Biden is determined to ensure the release of all hostages held by Hamas following the release of American Liat Benin on Wednesday.
The United States is urging Israel to narrow the combat zone and clarify where Palestinian civilians can seek safety during any Israeli operation in southern Gaza, to prevent a repeat of the massive death toll in Israeli attacks on northern Gaza, US officials said on Wednesday.
According to a Reuters count, 97 hostages have been released since the start of the truce. The Israeli army says 145 hostages remain in Gaza.
On Wednesday night, two Russian citizens and four Thai citizens were released outside the framework of the agreement, while the 10 Israeli citizens, including five dual citizens, were released, officials said. These were two dual Dutch citizens, also a minor, three dual German citizens, and one dual US citizen.
The ceasefire and release of hostages and prisoners was mediated by Qatar, which is another country seeking an extended truce.
Majid Al-Ansari, spokesman for the Qatari Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said in a statement: “Qatar still hopes to continue the progress achieved in recent days, and to reach another extension of the humanitarian truce agreement.”
Official media reported that Jordan will host a conference on Thursday attended by major UN, regional and international relief agencies to coordinate aid to Gaza.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres warned on Wednesday that the Gaza Strip was facing an “epic humanitarian catastrophe,” and he and others called for a ceasefire to replace the temporary truce.
“Intensive negotiations are underway to prolong the truce – which we very much welcome – but we believe we need a true humanitarian ceasefire,” he told a UN Security Council meeting.
China called on the Security Council on Thursday to formulate a “concrete” timetable and roadmap for a two-state solution to achieve a “comprehensive, just and lasting” settlement of the Palestinian issue.
(Reporting by Nidal Al-Mughrabi in Cairo – Prepared by Muhammad for the Arab Bulletin), Muhammad Salem and Roline Tufakji in Gaza, and Emily Rose in Jerusalem; Writing by Grant McCall and Lincoln Feast. Edited by Cynthia Osterman and Raju Gopalakrishnan
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A senior correspondent with nearly 25 years of experience covering the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, including several wars and the signing of the first historic peace agreement between the two sides.
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