Israel and Palestinian militant group Hamas have agreed to extend their ceasefire in Gaza for an additional two days to allow for further hostage releases, mediators announced on Monday.
- The truce, originally meant to end on Monday, will now continue through Wednesday
- During this extension, Israel is expected to release more Palestinian prisoners in exchange for releasing information on Israelis held by Hamas
- So far, Israel has freed 31 prisoners, while Hamas has released 3 Israeli hostages
- Mediators warn that securing the release of 2 Israelis still held by Hamas is key to sealing a long-term deal
"Securing the release of the two Israelis held by Hamas in Gaza remains the top priority," the Egyptian mediator said in a statement. "We call on Hamas to provide information on their condition without further delay."
Both Israel and Hamas appear motivated to avoid another round of fighting after nearly 3 days of intense conflict earlier this month that killed 49 Palestinians and wounded over 300.
Timeline of Recent Events
November 11 – Fighting erupts after Israel launches strikes in Gaza to preempt an imminent attack from the Islamic Jihad militant group. Hamas joins with rocket attacks.
November 14 – Egypt brokers initial 1-day truce between Israel and Hamas.
November 15 – Israel and Hamas agree to a ceasefire, mediated by Egypt, Qatar and the UN. The truce sees Israel allow entry of critical fuel supplies into Gaza.
November 16-17 – Israel frees 2 Hamas prisoners, while Hamas releases a video showing 2 Israeli hostages alive.
November 23 – With the ceasefire nearing expiration, Israel releases 31 more Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Hamas freeing an Israeli hostage.
November 28 – As the truce deadline looms, Israel and Hamas agree to a 2-day extension to continue prisoner swap talks.
Reactions from Involved Parties
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said additional extensions remain possible if progress continues:
"The state of Israel will negotiate through diplomatic channels for the return of the boys and the reconstruction of areas damaged by the fighting," he tweeted.
Hamas also expressed optimism on securing a longer-term deal.
"We are continuing our extensive efforts with the mediators to reach an agreement to stabilize the ceasefire," said Taher Al-Nono, an adviser to the Hamas chief in Gaza.
Meanwhile, relatives of Israelis still held captive in Gaza anxiously await their release:
“It’s a relief to know Avera is coming home, but the joy is tempered by the fact that my nephew Hisham is still being held,” said Asher Cousin, whose family member was among the hostages freed.
Table 1: Timeline of Recent Ceasefire Extension
|Israel and Hamas agree to 2-day truce extension
|Israel expected to release more Palestinian prisoners
|Extended ceasefire set to expire
|Ceasefire expires unless extended again
Will an Enduring Truce be Reached?
Reaching a long-term ceasefire deal still faces hurdles given the complex dynamics between Israel and Gaza militant groups.
Israel is demanding Gaza militants halt attacks and rocket fire permanently. However, groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad continue to call for lifting restrictions on the territory that severely undermine living conditions for Gazans.
"A lasting truce must address Gaza’s humanitarian crisis caused by the Israeli blockade,” said Islamic Jihad spokesman Tariq Salmi. “Our rockets will continue unless Gaza sees relief.”
With more than 2 million Palestinian residents, Gaza has suffered increased poverty and unemployment rates near 50% since Israel and Egypt imposed tight restrictions on its borders after Hamas seized control in 2007.
What Comes Next?
All sides are hoping these piecemeal prisoner exchanges will build trust and momentum for a more comprehensive truce agreement.
However, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz has cautioned that broader military action remains possible if rocket attacks persist.
“While we seek calm, we will not hesitate to defend our citizens with massive force if necessary,” Gantz declared.
Most analysts expect periodic clashes to continue even if the ceasefire holds, punctuated by intervals of tense calm.
”There is unlikely to be a written long-term truce given the lack of trust," notes Brookings Institute scholar Omar Shaban. "Rather we may see informal understandings akin to the period of relative quiet after the 2021 Gaza war."
For now, the focus remains on securing the release of remaining hostages through the truce extension as a step toward possible normalization.
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