Hamas seeks to extend truce with Israel - GulfToday

Hamas seeks to extend truce with Israel


A crowd surrounds a Red Cross bus carrying Palestinians prisoners released from Israeli jails on Sunday night. AFP

Hamas has said that it seeks to extension of the ongoing four-day truce with Israel, which has so far witnessed the release of three groups of Israeli hostages from Gaza and three groups of Palestinian prisoners and detainees from Israeli jails.

The truce between Israel and Hamas entered its final 24 hours on Monday.

Attention now has turned to whether the truce will be extended before its scheduled end early on Tuesday morning.

The four-day pause in fighting which began on November 24, is set to expire on Monday.

Hamas has signalled its willingness to extend the truce, with a source telling the media the group told mediators they were open to prolonging it by "two to four days".

"The resistance believes it is possible to ensure the release of 20 to 40 Israeli prisoners" in that time, the source close to the movement said.

Under the truce, 50 hostages held by the Hamas were to be freed over four days in exchange for 150 Palestinian prisoners. A built-in mechanism extends it if at least 10 Israeli captives are released each extra day.

Palestinian prisoner Khalil Zama (right) hugs his mother after being released from an Israeli jail on Monday. AFP

In an official statement on Sunday night, which was sent to the Israeli government through the mediators in Qatar, the Palestinian group said it wants "to extend the truce after the four-day period ends, through serious efforts to increase the number of those released from imprisonment as stipulated in the humanitarian ceasefire agreement".

Sources in Israel government told IANS that the government would consider further extension of ceasefire if more hostages in Hamas's captivity are freed.

Since the beginning of the ceasefire, 67 hostages were released by Hamas.

In exchange, Israel has released 39 Palestinian prisoners, according to the country's prison service.

Over the weekend, Qatar, which played a central role in mediating the agreement, said it too was hoping to extend the truce, which includes provision for an extension of one extra day for every 10 hostages Hamas is ready to free.

A senior Palestinian official familiar with negotiations taking place in Qatar has told the media that Hamas informed mediators that it is willing to extend the pause by two to four days, and that an extension could see the release of an additional 20 to 40 Israeli prisoners.

A group of Israelis watch as a helicopter carrying hostages released from the Gaza lands in Petah Tikva, Israel. AP

Under the terms of the current pause, a total of 50 Israeli hostages will be freed over four days in exchange for 150 Palestinian prisoners.

On November 25, the second batch of the release was implemented after a delay of several hours, as Hamas accused Israel of failing to adhere to what was agreed upon under the truce, regarding the entry of relief trucks into the north of Gaza.

But the UN Relief Works Agency (UNRWA) said that there is a regular flow of trucks into Gaza strip through the Rafah crossing and more trucks are likely to reach Gaza during the ceasefire period.


Related articles