Four-day Gaza truce enters final 24 hours as calls for extension mount

By Isaac M November 27, 2023

As the four-day truce between Hamas and Israel in Gaza enters its final 24 hours, calls for an extension are growing from various quarters.

Hamas has said it is pushing for an extension to the temporary ceasefire if “serious efforts” are made to increase the number of Palestinian prisoners released by Israel.

Under the terms of the deal, Hamas will release a total of 50 hostages, while Israel will release 150 Palestinian detainees over four days.

So far over three days, around 117 Palestinian prisoners have been released by Israel, while Hamas has freed 40 Israeli hostages in exchange.

HANDOUT - 25 November 2023, Israel, Ramat Gan: Sharon Hertzman (R) huggs hugs her son Omer at Sheba Medical Center, as she released by Hamas militants, amid a hostages-prisoners swap deal between Hamas and Israel. Photo by: Haim Zach/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images
Sharon Hertzman, who was held hostage by Hamas, hugs her son Omer at Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan, Israel, after her release. Pic: AP

Separately, 17 Thai hostages and one Filipino also being held by the group in Gaza have been allowed to leave the enclave.

Israel-Gaza latest: US girl, 4, freed by Hamas – as third group of hostages leave Gaza

Israel said the deal calls for the truce to be extended an extra day for every additional 10 hostages freed.

Internationally, mediators led by the US and Qatar are also attempting to facilitate an extension to the ceasefire.

Benjamin Netanyahu tours Gaza, greets troops. Foreign emailed, IDF photos
Benjamin Netanyahu greeted Israeli troops in Gaza on Sunday

President Joe Biden said it is in everyone’s interests that the truce continues as long as hostages are getting released.

The latest captives to be freed include four-year-old dual Israeli-American national Abigail Edan, whose parents were reportedly killed in the 7 October attacks.

Abigail Mor Edan
Abigail Mor Edan was freed on Sunday

The US president said her father was “gunned down while using his body to shield little Abigail”, who then ran to a neighbour’s house where she was taken hostage alongside another family.

“What she endured is unthinkable,” Mr Biden told a news conference.

He added: “Thank God she’s home… I wish I were there to hold her.”

Mr Biden said he hoped the “humanitarian pause” could be extended to allow more captives to be freed – and for more aid to be taken into Gaza.

He told reporters in Nantucket, Massachusetts, on Sunday: “That’s my goal, that’s our goal, to keep this pause going beyond tomorrow, so that we can continue to see more hostages come out and surge more humanitarian relief to those in need in Gaza.”

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Israel: ‘Ball is in Hamas’s court’

Mr Biden said the US would “not stop working until every hostage is returned to their loved ones,” while he also emphasised that “innocent children in Gaza are suffering greatly as well”.

Read more:
The Palestinian prisoners who could be released by Israel

Who are the first 26 Israeli hostages released by Hamas?

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Prominent Palestinian prisoner released

What are the conditions for extending the ceasefire?

Both Israel, Hamas and mediators such as the US and Qatar have endorsed extending the current ceasefire.

The Israelis have said that for every additional day of the ceasefire they would require 10 further hostages to be freed.

Hamas has supported the idea of an extension, providing “serious efforts” are made to increase the number of Palestinian prisoners released by Israel.

A Palestinian source told Reuters that up to 100 hostages could go free.

Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met security forces inside the Gaza Strip on Sunday where he also expressed hope for extending the temporary truce provided it meant that on every additional day 10 captives would be freed.

He also issued a statement saying he had spoken to Mr Biden reiterating his offer, but also told the president that Israel would resume its offensive “with all of our might” once the truce expires.

“We will return with full force to achieve our goals: The elimination of Hamas, ensuring that Gaza does not return to what it was; and of course the release of all our hostages,” Mr Netanyahu added.

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Could truce be extended?

Meanwhile, the prime minister of Qatar said that any extension of the truce was dependent on Hamas locating dozens of women and children being held hostage in Gaza by civilians and gangs.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al Thani told the Financial Times that more than 40 other women and children were being kept captive in Gaza who were not believed to be held by Hamas.

He said: “If they get additional women and children, there will be an extension.

“We don’t yet have any clear information how many they can find because… one of the purposes of the pause is [Hamas] will have time to search for the rest of the missing people.”

However, there are questions over whether a truce can hold much longer after violence flared in the West Bank, where Israeli forces killed seven Palestinians, late on Saturday and early Sunday, according to medics and local sources.


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