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Israel-Hamas ceasefire extended for two more days as three-year-olds freed in latest hostage release
27 November 2023, 16:22 | Updated: 27 November 2023, 23:03
The truce between Israel and Hamas has been extended for two days, with more hostages set to be let go from Gaza as another group was released on Monday.
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Israel and Hamas agreed a four-day ceasefire to release hostages on Friday, and the deal had been due to expire on Monday.
But there had been hopes that the pause in fighting could be extended, and the Qatari government announced the new agreement on Monday afternoon. The White House later confirmed the extension.
Israel had been releasing three Palestinian prisoners per one hostage set free by Hamas. A spokesperson for the terror group said the deal would continue along the same lines for the next two days.
On Monday, three-year-old twins, Emma and Yuli Cunio, were released by Hamas, alongside nine others. A total of 58 people, including 39 Israelis, have been released over the ceasefire's first three days.
Emma and Yuli's mother Sharon, 34, was released, though their father David is still being held by the terrorists.
Another family, Karina Engel, 53, and her children Mika, 18, and Yuval, 11, were let go but their father Ronen is also still being held.
Or Yakov, 16 and sibling Yagil, 13, were freed but their father Yair is still in Gaza.
And Sahar Kalderon, 16, and Erez Kalderon, 12, were released while Ofer, their father, remains a hostage, while Eitan Yahalomi, 12, is back in Israel without his father Ohad, who is still held.
A total of 33 Palestinians were set to be released form Israeli prison.
A spokesman for Qatar's foreign ministry said: "The State of Qatar announces, as part of the ongoing mediation, an agreement has been reached to extend the humanitarian truce for an additional two days in the Gaza Strip."
It is expected another 20 hostages will be released on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The US National Security Council's spokesman John Kirby said: "We welcome the announcement. We would of course hope to see the pause extended further, and that will depend upon Hamas continuing to release hostages."
The terror group had wanted a four-day extension, while Israel had wanted to go day-by-day, Reuters reported, with ten hostages to be released per day.
Around 170 people remain in captivity with Hamas, including about a 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.
But the UN called for the truce to become a ceasefire, amid a "humanitarian catastrophe" for people living in Gaza.
A spokesperson said: "The dialogue that led to the agreement must continue, resulting in a full humanitarian ceasefire, for the benefit of the people of Gaza, Israel and the wider region."
Israel and Hamas have been fighting for seven weeks, since Hamas launched its raids into southern Israel, killing 1,200 and taking about 240 hostages back into Gaza.
Some 14,800 Palestinians have been killed in the ensuing Israeli bombardment and ground invasion, Gaza health authorities have said, with hundreds of thousands more displaced.