Israel and Hamas exchanged prisoners for the fifth straight day on Tuesday as the extension of the initial four-day truce appears to be successful despite the two sides blaming the other for briefly violating the ceasefire earlier in the day.
Hamas released 12 more hostages, including 10 Israelis and two foreign nationals. Qatar’s Foreign Ministry said the Israeli hostages included one child and nine women.
In exchange, Israel released 30 Palestinians from prison, including 15 women and 15 children. The new exchange brings the total number of hostages released by Hamas to 81 and Palestinians freed by Israel to 180.
However, Israel has been arresting Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem nearly as fast as it is releasing prisoners. According to Palestinian prisoner groups, in the first four days of the truce, when Israel released 150 Palestinians, 133 Palestinians were arrested in the occupied territories.
“As long as there is occupation, the arrests will not stop. People must understand this because this is a central policy of occupation against Palestinians and to restrict any kind of resistance,” Amany Sarahneh, spokeswoman for the Palestinian Prisoners Society, told Al Jazeera.
“This is a daily practice – it’s not just after October 7,” she added. “We actually expected more people to be arrested during these four days.”
The hostage deal truce is set to continue for at least one more day, although CIA Director William Burns is in Qatar discussing with Israeli and Qatari officials the idea of expanding the arrangement. According to The Washington Post, the US is pushing for a deal for Hamas to start releasing men and military hostages.
The Post report said the maximum truce it will agree to would be a total of ten days and requires Hamas to continue releasing at least 10 hostages per day during that period. Israeli officials have vowed to expand military operations in Gaza once the ceasefire is over.