Israel and Hamas have reached an agreement to extend the temporary cease-fire in Gaza for a seventh day, the Qatari government announced early Thursday.
Majed Al-Ansari, spokesperson for Qatar’s foreign ministry, said in a statement that the cease-fire would continue for at least one more day under the same ongoing parameters, which would sees Hamas free another group of hostages, Israel release a batch of Palestinian prisoners, and several hundred humanitarian aid trucks be allowed to enter Gaza.
In a post to social media Thursday morning, Israel Defense Forces wrote that, given ongoing mediation efforts towards the potential release of more Hamas-held hostages, the “operational pause” in the fighting in Gaza would continue.
During the cease-fire, Israeli intelligence has been receiving a daily list of the names of the hostages who are expected to be released in each group prior to their handover. In its own statement early Thursday, the office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that its war cabinet came to a unanimous decision Wednesday night that fighting would “be resumed immediately” if it was not given such a list on Thursday.
However, the prime minister’s office said that it was provided a “list of women and children” in accordance with the terms of the agreement, and therefore the truce will continue.”
The short-term cease-fire between the two sides began Nov. 24. It was initially slated for four days, but was extended for another two. It was then set to expire at 7 a.m. local time Thursday before being extended yet again for a seventh day.
Frantic talksWednesday involving Qatari, Egyptian and U.S. mediators in an effort to try to extend the pause, with both Israel and Hamas indicating they would be open to another deal.
Under the current arrangement, about three Palestinian prisoners are being released in the West Bank for every one hostage freed. The hostages released so far have only been women and, but it is possible that men could be included in a future deal
Sixteen hostages, including an American woman,, bringing the total number of Hamas-held hostages released since the cease-fire began to about 100. Some 210 have been released from Israeli prisons in return, including 30 Palestinians on Wednesday, Qatar said.
Netanyahu said on Wednesday that after all the hostages are returned by Hamas, Israel’s operations in Gaza would resume.
“In recent days, I have heard a question: After completing this stage of the return of our hostages, will Israel go back to the fighting? My answer is an unequivocal yes,” Netanyahu said in a statement. “There is no situation in which we do not go back to fighting until the end.”
More than 1,200 people, most of them civilians, were killed by Hamas militants during their Oct. 7 invasion of southern Israel, according to the Israeli military.
The Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry says almost 15,000 people have been killed in Gaza by Israel’s retaliatory ground incursion and airstrikes
— Haley Ott and Margaret Brennan contributed to this report.