Qatari and Egyptian negotiators push for two-day truce extension between Israel and Hamas

Qatari and Egyptian negotiators push for two-day truce extension between Israel and Hamas

Qatari and Egyptian negotiators are working on brokering a new two-day extension to the temporary truce between Israel and Hamas, the head of Egypt’s State Information Service said in a statement.

“There are ongoing Egyptian-Qatari contacts to extend the humanitarian truce for an additional two days, in an effort to cease fire, release more prisoners and detainees, and bring more humanitarian and relief aid into the Gaza Strip,” the statement by said.

“The intense Egyptian-Qatari efforts have resulted in overcoming many obstacles, which was facing the implementation of the armistice agreement today,” it added.

The news coincides with a visit by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken to Israel, his third since the war began. The visit took place as a shooting by Palestinian gunmen in West Jerusalem killed at least three people, Israeli police said. No group immediately claimed responsibility for the shooting.

Israel and Hamas agreed to extend their cease-fire by at least a further 24 hours on Thursday morning, just minutes before the fragile truce hit its deadline.

The pause in fighting, now in its seventh day, so far has seen almost 100 hostages released from Hamas’ captivity in Gaza — just over 70 Israelis and 24 foreign nationals, mostly Thai agricultural workers — and 210 Palestinian prisoners released from Israeli detention, as of Wednesday. Under the terms of the deal between the warring parties, three Palestinian prisoners are exchanged for every one Israeli hostage.

“The operational pause will continue in light of the mediators’ efforts to continue the process of releasing the hostages and subject to the terms of the framework,” the Israeli Defense Forces posted on its official X account on Thursday morning.

Qatar, a key mediator of the arrangement which has also been home to Hamas’ political division since 2012, noted the continuation of humanitarian aid delivery to Gaza under the terms of the cease-fire.

“Palestinian and Israeli sides reached an agreement to extend the humanitarian truce in the Gaza Strip for an additional day under the same previous conditions, which are a ceasefire and the entry of humanitarian aid, within the framework of the joint mediation of the State of Qatar,” Qatar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

U.S. President Joe Biden confirmed Wednesday that one of the freed hostages was a dual Israeli-American national.

Top officials from Qatar, Egypt, the U.S. and Israel have been involved in the cease-fire talks, with many working to extend the deal that was meant to expire on Thursday morning. Both sides have accused the other of violating the pause in fighting at times.

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