July 16, 2024

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Hamas-Israel truce enters final day as pressure builds for extension

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Hamas is expected to release more hostages on Monday, the fourth and final day of a temporary truce with Israel, as pressure grows on the Israeli authorities to extend the pause in hostilities in order to secure the return of more captives.

The Palestinian militant group on Sunday freed 17 hostages, including 14 Israeli civilians, in exchange for 39 Palestinian prisoners, the third release under a deal brokered by the US, Qatar and Egypt that has temporarily stalled Israel’s war on Hamas in order to allow for the return of captives and increased flow of humanitarian aid to Gaza.

The success of the delicate hostage-for-prisoner swaps — which threatened to break down on Saturday — has elevated Israel’s national mood and raised hopes that the deal could be extended to allow for more civilians to be returned to their families.

The hostage releases have become a national obsession in Israel with near wall-to-wall media coverage, while thousands of Palestinians have gathered each evening at Ofer Prison, between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, letting off firecrackers to celebrate the prisoners’ release and bolstering Hamas’s political standing.

Speaking at a celebration for the release of one Israeli hostage, Noam Alon, whose girlfriend Inbar Haiman was snatched from the Nova music festival, vowed to keep up pressure for the release of more hostages, “at any price”.

“We are expecting to see everyone freed, we want our government to do everything to continue the deal,” he said.

The Palestinian group has already released 40 Israeli hostages, some of them dual nationals, in batches of roughly a dozen each day. Under the four-day deal, Hamas is to complete the return of 50 Israeli civilians for 150 Palestinian prisoners. The accord’s original framing allows for it to be extended, with 10 more hostages to be released per additional day of…

2023-11-27 02:57:58

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