Negotiators have reached a deal to extend a cease-fire between Israeli and Hamas forces in Gaza.
A Qatari official announced Monday on the social media service X the agreement would continue an existing truce for another two days. Qatar and Egypt have led the negotiations surrounding the ongoing conflict.
The new deal came on the final day of a four-day ceasefire. Negotiators said they were also preparing for new exchanges of hostages and prisoners.
Israel had no immediate comment on the new truce. But Israeli officials had said the country would be open to extending the cease-fire by one day for every 10 additional hostages released. Hamas confirmed it had agreed to a two-day cease-fire extension.
Hamas freed 17 more hostages on Sunday – 14 Israelis and three Thais – in a third exchange under the earlier four-day truce. Israel released 39 Palestinian prisoners in the latest exchange.
About 240 hostages were captured by Hamas in its October 7 attack in southern Israel that started the war. So far, 62 hostages have been released. One was freed by Israeli forces and two were found dead inside Gaza. At least 117 Palestinians were freed under the latest truce.
An Israeli government spokesperson said the total number of hostages still held in Gaza as of Monday was 184. This included 14 foreigners and 80 Israelis with dual nationality.
Last week’s cease-fire agreement – which was set to end Monday night – brought the first halt in fighting between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.
The Hamas-controlled Health Ministry in Gaza says more than 13,300 Palestinians have been killed since the start of the war, many of them women and children. The ministry does not differentiate between civilians and military-force deaths.
Israeli officials have said about 1,200 people have been killed in Israel, mostly during the first attacks by Hamas. At least 77 soldiers have been killed in Israel’s ground offensive in Gaza.
An Egyptian official told Reuters news agency the new truce would permit the release of about 20 Israeli hostages in exchange for 60 Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails.
The European Union's foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, told reporters he hopes a truce extension will permit the international community to work on a lasting political solution.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said the country planned to push ahead with the war at the end of the cease-fires.
Wide areas of Hamas-ruled Gaza have been destroyed by Israeli air strikes and bombings. The war also led to a humanitarian crisis because of shortages of food, fuel, water and medicine.
The latest truce did lead to some increased shipments of fuel and supplies into Gaza. But aid groups say much more is needed to help the immediate needs of the 2.3 million Palestinians there.
I’m Bryan Lynn.
The Associated Press and Reuters reported on this story. Bryan Lynn adapted the reports for VOA Learning English.
Words in This Story
dual – adj. having two parts