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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Israel, Hamas agree to extend Gaza truce for 2 more days

Palestinian citizens inspect the effects of destruction caused by air strikes on their homes in the Khuzaa area on Nov. 27, 2023, in Khan Yunis, Gaza. A temporary ceasefire between Israel and Hamas has held since Friday, offering Gaza residents respite from constant bombardment.    (Ahmad Hasaballah/Getty Images Europe/TNS)
By Gwen Ackerman, Omar Tamo and Fares Akram Bloomberg News

Israel and Hamas agreed to extend a cease-fire, which was initially due to end Tuesday morning, in their devastating war following tense negotiations over the release of more hostages held by the militant group in Gaza.

The two sides will halt fighting for another two days, Qatar’s foreign ministry said on X, while Hamas said in a statement that a deal was reached to “extend the temporary humanitarian cease-fire for an additional two days, under the same conditions as the previous cease-fire.” Israel’s foreign ministry hasn’t confirmed the agreement.

The current halt began Friday after intense negotiations brokered by Qatar, with the help of Egypt and the United States. It was the first since the conflict erupted in early October when Hamas attacked Israel, which retaliated by bombing Gaza and reducing much of it to rubble.

Under that deal, Israel allowed more aid into Gaza and was set to release around 150 Palestinians from jail. Hamas, designated a terrorist group by the U.S. and European Union, has so far freed more than 50 hostages, including foreigners.

The new deal was announced after Israel came under increasing pressure to agree to an extension. President Joe Biden had said he wanted to prolong the pause in the war, which has killed thousands of people and inflamed tensions in the Middle East and beyond.

Despite disputes and delays, the truce has held for three exchanges of hostages through Sunday, totaling 58 people, including non-Israelis. Those freed by Hamas on Sunday included a 4-year-old girl — a U.S.-Israeli dual national — whose parents were killed in the group’s Oct. 7 attack on Israel. That attack sparked the war.

Hamas was earlier slated to free another 11 Israelis on Monday. Israel has released around 120 Palestinians, all of them women and minors.

The war started Oct. 7 when Hamas militants swarmed into southern Israeli communities from Gaza, killing around 1,200 people and abducting 240. More than 15,000 have died in Gaza amid the airstrikes and a later ground assault by Israel.