Israel-Hamas ceasefire extended amidst negotiations
In a joint agreement on Thursday, Israel and Hamas decided to extend the ceasefire in their conflict for at least one more day, just moments before the initial six-day truce was set to expire, as reported by Reuters.
The Israeli military stated in a release that the ceasefire would persist while mediators attempted to free more hostages held in the Gaza Strip in exchange for Palestinian prisoners.
Extended beyond the initial four days, the ceasefire brought a brief respite from the bombardments on Gaza. The coastal territory, home to 2.3 million inhabitants, had been transformed into a desolate landscape in response to the deadly actions of Hamas militants in southern Israel on October 7.
"In light of the mediators' efforts to continue the hostage release process, the operational pause will persist," stated the Israeli communication, released just minutes before the temporary ceasefire was due to expire.
Hamas, which released 16 hostages on Wednesday in exchange for 30 Palestinian prisoners, asserted in a statement that the ceasefire would continue for a seventh day. The militant group had previously claimed that Israel had refused to accept seven more women and children, as well as the bodies of three other hostages, in exchange for extending the truce.
Both parties have expressed readiness to resume hostilities.
Israel has vowed to eradicate Hamas, the governing authority in Gaza, in response to the havoc caused by the militant group on October 7, where, according to Israel, armed individuals killed 1,200 people and took 240 hostages.
Prior to the ceasefire, Israel bombarded the territory for seven weeks, resulting in the deaths of over 15,000 Palestinians, according to health authorities in the coastal area.
Translation by Iurie Tataru