Intense negotiations are underway in Qatar aimed at extending the truce between Israel and Hamas that’s due to expire on Thursday.
The initial four-day truce began on Friday and was extended another two days. Despite reports of minor clashes, the pause in fighting has held relatively well, and the two sides have continued to exchange prisoners.
According to Al Jazeera, the current negotiations being mediated by Qatar are focused on how long the truce will be extended and how many hostages and prisoners will be released. The temporary ceasefire will likely be extended for another few days, but a lasting deal is not expected as Israel continues to vow to continue its military operations.
“After this phase of returning our abductees is exhausted, will Israel return to fighting? So my answer is an unequivocal yes,” Netanyahu said on Wednesday. “There is no way we are not going back to fighting until the end.” Previous reports have said the longest Israel is willing to pause the war is 10 days.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken is headed to the region and told reporters in Brussels that he wants the truce to be extended. “Looking at the next couple of days, we’ll be focused on doing what we can to extend the pause so we can continue to get more hostages out and more humanitarian assistance in,” he said.
Hamas officials have said they are looking for a deal to release Israeli men and military personnel. The exchanges so far have involved Hamas releasing women and children and Israel freeing mainly Palestinian women and children or people who were detained as minors.
“Now this point is on the table,” a member of Hamas’s political bureau told Al Jazeera. “For the whole of captives, either military or civilians. We’re still discussing it with the mediators in order to reach a satisfying compromise.”