Doha/Gaza: With the four-day ceasefire expiring on Tuesday, Israel and Hamas have agreed to extend the humanitarian pause by two days, a Qatari Foreign Ministry spokesperson confirmed.
“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,” the spokesperson said on X.
Deeming the extension as “a glimpse of hope and humanity in the middle of the darkness of war”, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said: “I strongly hope that these will enable us to increase even more the humanitarian aid to the people in Gaza that (are) suffering so much.” Xinhua news agency reported
On Monday, the last day of the Israel-Hamas truce which came into effect on November 24, Israel confirmed that Hamas released another 11 captives in the Gaza Strip, while 33 Palestinians released by Israel arrived early Tuesday in the West Bank town of Ramallah.
The Qatari Foreign Ministry said the 11 hostages freed by the Hamas were all dual nationals, comprising three Israeli-French citizens, two Israeli-German citizens, and six Israeli-Argentinian citizens.
They were released 52 days after being taken hostage by Hamas militants in their deadly attack on southern Israel on October 7.
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and Israel Security Agency (ISA) forces are currently accompanying 11 released hostages in Israeli territory, according to an official statement.
“After they undergo an initial medical assessment, our forces will escort them until they are reunited with their families,” it added.
With Monday’s releases, the Hamas has so far freed 69 hostages, primarily women and children, since the truce came into force on November 24
Israel has freed at least 150 Palestinians from prison, mainly women and minors, till date.
Many of these prisoners were detained but never charged.
Of the about 240 hostages captured by Hamas, less than one-third have been released so far, according to IDF figures.
Under the original four-day truce deal, Hamas will release 50 Israelis in exchange for some 150 Palestinians from Israel.
The humanitarian pause in the Gaza Strip entails a cessation of hostilities and an increased flow of aid trucks carrying relief supplies and fuel through the Rafah crossing.
Hamas said in a statement to Xinhua that the extension of the truce will be carried out “under the same conditions as listed in the previous ceasefire deal”.
Over the weeks since the Israel-Hamas fighting began, Qatar has played a crucial role in facilitating the truce, while more international efforts of mediation are coming soon.
Early Tuesday morning, the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office said that it had received a new list of hostages to be released in the day by the Hamas.
The latest swap came just hours before the four-day truce was due to expire.
Further lorry-loads of humanitarian supplies entered the Gaza Strip on Monday with food, fuel and medicines being distributed by aid organisations
As of Tuesday morning, more than 14,800 people have been killed in Gaza since the eruption of the hostilities, including about 6,000 children and 4,000 women.
The death toll in Israel stood at over 1,200 and the West Bank has reported at least 231 fatalities.