A truce between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip will be extended by two days, the Palestinian group and mediator Qatar said Monday, November 27 opening the way for further releases of hostages and prisoners.
With just hours to go before the “humanitarian pause” was to end early Tuesday, Hamas said that an agreement had been reached to prolong it by 48 hours under the existing terms.
There was no immediate confirmation from the Israeli side of the extension, which was hailed by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres as “a glimpse of hope and humanity in the middle of the darkness of war”.
Qatar with the support of the United States and Egypt has been engaged in intense negotiations to establish and prolong the truce in Gaza.
Qatari foreign ministry spokesman Majed Al Ansari announced that “an agreement has been reached to extend the humanitarian truce for an additional two days in the Gaza Strip.”
Hamas, which runs Gaza and triggered the latest round of fighting by launching a bloody cross-border raid last month, said it was drawing up a new list of hostages for release.
Meanwhile, the office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said it had informed families of the identities of hostages to be released on Monday, the last day of the initial four-day truce.
Israel says the pause is designed to allow Hamas to free more of the hostages it is holding since the October 7 attack, which killed 1,200 Israelis including many women and children, according to Israeli officials.
Israel’s campaign against Hamas has left almost 15,000 dead, mostly Palestinian civilians, according to Gaza’s Hamas government.
The Qatari announcement came after US President Joe Biden, top EU envoy Josep Borrell and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg all urged both parties to extend their temporary break in fighting.
As part of the truce deal, Hamas has so far released 39 Israeli hostages, including a four-year-old girl orphaned by the group’s October 7 attack, with more expected later Monday.
Israel has freed 117 Palestinian prisoners under the terms of the agreement.