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Bid To Extend Truce, Free More Hostages

by | Wed, Nov 29 2023

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Hamas and Israel are expected to release more hostages and prisoners on Wednesday (November 29) which is the last day of a prolonged six-day truce in the Gaza War, as negotiations gather momentum to reach an agreement on a further extension to the ceasefire.

Israel has said the pause in hostilities could be continued provided Hamas frees at least 10 Israeli hostages per day. However, the Reuters news agency reports that with fewer women and children still in captivity, that would most likely require the release of some Israeli men for the first time, and its unclear whether Hamas would agree to that.

Hamas and allied group Islamic Jihad freed 12 more hostages on Tuesday including 10 Israelis — nine women and one teenager — and two Thai farm workers, bringing the total number freed since the truce began on Friday to 81. They have been mostly Israeli women and children along with one Russian-Israeli man, a Filipino caregiver and a group of Thai farm workers.

The latest group released were aged aged 17 to 84 and included a mother and daughter pair. All were given initial medical checks before being taken to Israeli hospitals to be reunited with their families. In exchange, Israel released 30 Palestinians from a West Bank prison and a Jerusalem detention centre. Half were women and the remainder were teenage boys, bringing the total number of Palestinians released under the truce to 180.

Qatar which has brokered the pause in fighting has held high level talks with the heads of the CIA and Mossad to discuss the possibility of extending the truce and passed on the results of those discussions to Israel and Hamas. Around 159 hostages remain in Gaza including eight or nine Americans.

The World Health Organization (WHO) claims Israel’s siege of Gaza has led to the collapse of the territory’s health care system, especially in the north where no hospitals are still  functioning. It warned that more Gazans could soon be dying of disease than from bombing and gunfire.

That’s despite 800 truckloads of humanitarian aid being brought into Gaza during the ceasefire and three planeloads of American supplies ready to be transported into the enclave.