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Deal reached to extend Israel-Hamas truce by two days, Qatar says

Nov 28, 2023, 10:58 AM

Palestinians walk through damaged buildings in Gaza City. (Mohammed Hajjar, Associated Press)...

Palestinians walk through damaged buildings in Gaza City. (Mohammed Hajjar, Associated Press)

(Mohammed Hajjar, Associated Press)

(CNN)The truce that saw the return of 50 Israeli women and children from captivity in Gaza, as well as dozens of other nationals, has been extended for two more days, officials said Monday, as the hard-negotiated initial four-day pause concluded successfully following a late-night release of captives.

Eleven Israelis were freed by Hamas on Monday, the Red Cross and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said, bringing the total number of freed hostages to 69. Thirty-three Palestinian prisoners were also freed, bringing the total number of Palestinian women and children released from Israeli prisons over the course of the truce to 150. Several dozen truckloads of aid were also able to reach the besieged enclave in what had been the first respite for Palestinians in the nearly two months of war.

Qatar’s foreign ministry spokesperson Majed Al-Ansari confirmed the extension of the truce in a statement posted on X, with leaders in Israel and the US quickly welcoming the news.

Hamas said it agreed with Qatar and Egypt to extend the truce for an additional two days “under the same conditions reached before.”

Mark Regev, the senior adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, confirmed to CNN’s Dana Bash that a two-day extension had been reached, adding that it would go into effect after Monday’s hostage transfer was completed.

Regev said that under the agreement, Hamas will release 10 hostages each day.

“For every 10 hostages released, we’re willing to give an extension of another day, and if Hamas will release Israeli hostages as agreed, we will extend — that’s the bottom line,” Regev said.

Regev said he believes the hostages released over the next two days would be women and children.

“My understanding is that there’s still enough women and children in Gaza held by Hamas for the next 20 (releases),” Regev said.

Regev credited US President Joe Biden for helping arrange the parameters of the deal.

“These were negotiated with the help of President Biden and we thank him for putting his effort and his office behind these arrangements. I don’t think we would have reached the deal without his input,” he said.

In a statement, Biden praised the extension and said he has been “deeply engaged” as the truce has played out. He went on to thank the leaders of Israel, Qatar, and Egypt “for their commitment to this process and in reaching the agreement for an extension.”

“We will not stop until all of the hostages held by Hamas terrorists are released,” he added.

The White House also said they “hope to see” the pause extended further.

The announcement followed a call Monday between US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and the prime minister of Qatar, who helped broker the original four-day truce, according to a source familiar with the discussions.

The initial deal to secure the release of 50 women and children hostages was struck with the understanding that the cessation in fighting could be extended by additional days if Hamas was able to produce additional hostages, as CNN has previously reported.

Israeli and US officials believed that there were more women and children being held in captivity than 50, but agreed to the terms of the deal as Hamas insisted that it needed to use the pause in fighting to gather up additional hostages.

Two American women abducted by Hamas on October 7 are believed to still be in captivity, US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told CNN Monday.

The White House had said three Americans were expected to be among the 50 hostages that Hamas would release over the course of the four-day pause, but only one – four-year-old Abigail Edan – was freed in the first period of truce. It was not immediately clear why the two women had not yet been released, and whether they would be released during the two-day extension.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story said the prime minister of Qatar held a call with President Biden. This has been corrected.

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Deal reached to extend Israel-Hamas truce by two days, Qatar says