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Hamas seeks to extend truce with Israel as more hostages set to be released on final day of fragile ceasefire
27 November 2023, 10:09
Hamas has said it is willing to extend a truce with Israel as a ceasefire between the two parties enters its final day.
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Israel and Hamas agreed to stop fighting for four days in order to facilitate the release of both Israeli hostages and Palestinian prisoners.
So far, 58 hostages have been released by Hamas after they were taken during the October 7 attacks, with more set to be released today.
Forty hostages, all women and children, were released as part of a deal between Israel and Hamas, while 17 Thai hostages and one Filipino were released as part of a separate deal involving Egypt.
In total, 50 hostages are expected to be released by Hamas by the end of the current deal, but there is a chance the truce with Israel could be extended.
Israel is offering one extra day of ceasefire per 10 hostages that are released.
There have been suggestions that Hamas is willing to release between 20 and 40 extra hostages, which could lead to a ceasefire extension of between two and four days.
Around 180 people remain in captivity with Hamas, including around one dozen children, and several foreign nationals.
There are concerns, however, that Hamas will use an extension of a ceasefire with Israel to restock weapons before a continuation of the war in Gaza.
The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has insisted his country remains committed to wiping out Hamas once the fighting resumes.
"I would like to say that there is also an outline that says that it is possible to release an additional 10 [hostages] each day. That would be welcome," he said yesterday.
Mr Netanyahu, who recently spoke with the US President Joe Biden, also stated that he told him "we will go to realizing our goals with full force: Eliminating Hamas, ensuring that Gaza will not go back to being what it was and—of course—releasing all of our hostages."
“The two leaders also discussed the pause in the fighting and surge in much needed additional humanitarian assistance into Gaza," a spokesperson for the White House said.
"The prime minister thanked the president for his tireless efforts to help broker and fully implement this deal."
'The two leaders agreed that the work is not yet done and that they will continue working to secure the release of all hostages," they added.
Reacting to Avigail's release, Mr Biden said: "We continue to press and expect that additional Americans will be released as well."
"We will not stop working until every hostage is returned to their loved ones."
Speaking at a press conference after the third group of hostages was released, Mr Biden said Avigail "spent her birthday... and at least 50 days before that held hostage by Hamas".
"Today she's free, and Jilly and I, together with so many Americans, are praying for the fact that she is going to be alright," he said.
He added that Avigail has been through a "terrible trauma" and that "what she endured is unthinkable".