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Monday, February 26, 2024

Israel-Hamas Truce Extended: Positive Step in Ceasefire, White House Commends Move

Amidst the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, a temporary truce has been extended by an additional two days, marking a crucial development in the efforts to halt the violence that has ravaged the region for the past 45 days. The extension, confirmed by the Palestine-based terror group Hamas, comes as a result of international pressure to prevent a resurgence of hostilities that have claimed hundreds of lives and left many more injured.

Qatar, playing a key role in mediating between the conflicting parties, announced the extension of the humanitarian truce in the Gaza Strip. Majed Al Ansari, a spokesman for the Qatari foreign ministry, revealed the agreement on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter. The extension reflects the ongoing diplomatic efforts involving Qatar, the United States, and Egypt, aiming to broaden and prolong the truce in Gaza.

The initial truce, designed to last four days, saw the release of 39 Israeli hostages by Hamas in exchange for 117 Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails. The humanitarian pause also aimed to free a total of 50 civilian hostages, including women and children. Simultaneously, 150 Palestinian prisoners were expected to be released by Israel, with the added provision of allowing humanitarian aid into Gaza.

Parallel negotiations led by Qatar resulted in the release of 17 Thais, one Filipino, and one dual Russian-Israeli national by the Palestinian militants. The number of individuals slated for release stands as the largest since Hamas gunmen initiated a deadly attack on Israel’s militarized border on October 7, claiming the lives of 1,200 people, predominantly civilians, and taking around 240 hostages, including elderly individuals and children.

In response to the initial attack, Israel launched a sustained bombing campaign and ground offensive in Gaza. The Hamas government claims that these actions have resulted in the death of 15,000 people, with thousands of them being children.

The White House expressed its support for the two-day extension of the truce, with National Security Council spokesman John Kirby stating that they welcomed the announcement. Kirby added, “We would, of course, hope to see the pause extended further, and that will depend upon Hamas continuing to release hostages.”

The announcement was made by Qatari foreign ministry spokesman Majed Al Ansari.(Representative Photo: AFP file)

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres referred to the truce extension as a “glimpse of hope” in the midst of the ongoing conflict. He emphasized the need for additional time to address the humanitarian needs of the population in Gaza, stating that without more time, it would be impossible to satisfy the dramatic needs of the people in the region.

As the international community continues its efforts to broker a lasting peace, the extension of the truce provides a momentary respite in the hope of paving the way for further negotiations and a more permanent cessation of hostilities in the troubled region.

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