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Israel-Hamas War, Day 55: IDF says truce to continue as 16 more hostages released from Gaza

Hamas on Wednesday released 10 Israeli women and children along with four Thai nationals, in exchange for reportedly 30 Palestinian prisoners on the sixth day of the extended truce. The truce was set to expire on Thursday morning but has been extended for another day.

Aveek Banerjee Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Jerusalem Updated on: November 30, 2023 16:40 IST
A minibus carrying Israeli hostages released by Hamas.
Image Source : AP A minibus carrying Israeli hostages released by Hamas.

The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) on Thursday said that the temporary truce with Hamas, which was extended by two days on Monday, will continue for another day in light of mediating efforts to continue the release of hostages, a day after Hamas released 16 more captives from the Gaza Strip. The Qatari Foreign Ministry said the truce was being extended under the same terms as in the past, after it was set to expire on Wednesday.

"The operational pause will continue in light of the mediators' efforts to continue the process of releasing the hostages and subject to the terms of the framework," said the IDF on social media platform X.

On Wednesday, Hamas released 10 Israeli women and children along with four Thai nationals, who returned to Israel and were taken to hospitals. Two Russian-Israeli women were freed by Hamas separately. Later, Israel released Palestinian prisoners, expected to number 30 as per the terms of the truce agreement.

After Wednesday, at least 73 Israelis, including dual nationals, have been freed during the six-day truce along with 24 captives of other nationalities. Israeli officials say that militant groups in Gaza still hold around 20 women, who would all be released in a few days if the swaps continue at the current rate. 

The future of the truce now depends on the release of around 126 men Israel says are held captive, including several dozen soldiers. Hamas is expected to make higher demands such as the release of prominent Palestinian detainees.

Truce agreement between Israel and Hamas

According to The Times of Israel, the two warring sides are yet to reach an agreement with the mediators on the next group of hostages to be released by Hamas, which would secure the truce for a seventh day. An Israeli source said that the country would resume fighting if Hamas does not propose the release of the next group of hostages.

On the other hand, Hamas claimed that Israel refused to accept a proposed list that included seven living hostages and the remains of three who were claimed to be killed in previous Israeli airstrikes. This indicates that the negotiations between the two are getting tougher as more women and children are freed by Hamas.

Netanyahu reiterated on Wednesday that Israel will resume its campaign to eliminate Hamas, which has ruled Gaza for 16 years and orchestrated the deadly attack on Israel that triggered the war. "After this phase of returning our abductees is exhausted, will Israel return to fighting? So my answer is an unequivocal yes...There is no way we are not going back to fighting until the end," he said.

Hostages killed in Israeli airstrikes

Hamas also informed on Wednesday that a 10-month-old child Kfir Bibas, his 4-year-old brother, and their mother were killed in an Israeli airstrike in the Gaza Strip, all of them being held captives by the militant group. 

Additionally, Israeli troops killed two Palestinian boys - aged 8 and 15 - during a raid on the town of Jenin in the occupied West Bank region, according to Palestinian health officials. The Israeli military said that its troops fired on those who threw explosives at them, but the boys were not seen throwing anything in the security footage of the incident.

The Biden administration has told Israel that it must work to avoid "significant further displacement" of Palestinian civilians in southern Gaza if it renews its ground campaign aimed at eradicating the Hamas militant group, senior US officials said.

It should be mentioned here that more than 14,000 Palestinians have been killed since the war began, roughly two-thirds of them women and minors, according to the Health Ministry in Hamas-ruled Gaza. Meanwhile, over 1,200 people have also been killed on the Israeli side, mostly civilians killed in the initial attack.

(with inputs from agencies)

ALSO READ | Hamas says 10-month-old, family held hostage in Gaza killed in Israeli airstrike, Israel says verifying

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