Israel and Hamas look open to extending truce on its final day, with one more hostage swap planned
TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) — Israel and Hamas appeared open to extending a cease-fire in Gaza that has halted their deadliest and most destructive war but is set to expire after Monday, with a fourth exchange of militant-held hostages for Palestinians imprisoned by Israel planned for later in the day.
Israel has said it would extend the cease-fire by one day for every 10 additional hostages released. Hamas has also said it hopes to extend the four-day truce, which came into effect Friday after several weeks of indirect negotiations mediated by the United States, Qatar and Egypt.
But Israel also says it remains committed to crushing Hamas’ military capabilities and ending its 16-year rule over Gaza after its October 7 attack into southern Israel. That would likely mean expanding a ground offensive from devastated northern Gaza to the south, where hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have crammed into United Nations shelters, and where dire conditions persist despite the increased delivery of aid under the truce.
Two Egyptian officials said talks are aimed at extending the cease-fire for another four days, with one saying that both sides have agreed in principle. But that official added that violence in the occupied West Bank is complicating matters, with Hamas demanding an end to Israeli military raids. Hundreds of Palestinians have been arrested and scores killed in clashes with Israeli forces since the war began.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media.
The release of dozens of people — mostly women and children who were among the roughly 240 captured by Hamas and other militants during the October 7 raid that ignited the war — has rallied Israelis behind calls to return the rest of them.
Sixty-two hostages have been released — almost all during the current truce. Previously, one was freed by Israeli forces and two were found dead inside Gaza.
“We can get all hostages back home. We have to keep pushing,” two relatives of Abigail Edan, a 4-year-old girl and dual Israeli-American citizen who was released Sunday, said in a statement.
Hamas and other militants could still be holding up to 175 hostages — enough to potentially extend the cease-fire for two and a half weeks — but those include a number of soldiers, and the militants are likely to make much greater demands for their release.