Hamas and Israel agreed at the last minute on a deal to extend the Gaza truce for one more day, making Thursday the seventh day of the temporary ceasefire to facilitate the swap of Israeli hostages for Palestinian prisoners.
According to Middle East Eye, the agreement was made after Hamas sent Israel a list of Israeli women and children it could release. The extension of the truce since the initial four-day pause has been conditioned on Hamas releasing ten hostages per day and Israel freeing more Palestinian prisoners.
“A list of women and children – in accordance with the terms of the outline [of the truce agreement last week] – was delivered to Israel a short time ago; therefore, the pause will continue,” the Israeli government said in a statement.
The extended truce is due to expire at 7 am local time on Friday unless another deal is reached. Qatar-mediated negotiations are expected to be more difficult as Hamas is looking for more concessions from Israel to release the Israeli soldiers they captured.
The exchanges so far have involved Hamas freeing Israeli women and children and Israel mainly releasing Palestinian women and children or people who were detained as minors.
Israeli officials have made clear they intend to resume the war soon and are not looking for a long-term ceasefire. Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant has vowed that Israeli operations will be bigger than before the truce.
Israel is expected to focus its next phase of operations on southern Gaza, which could incur even more civilian casualties as hundreds of thousands of displaced Palestinians from the north are concentrated in the area. The US is expressing concerns about the next phase but has reaffirmed its military aid to Israel is unconditional despite the mass civilian slaughter Israel has already committed.