Israel and Hamas have agreed to extend a four-day ceasefire in the Gaza Strip for a further two days, with the mediation of Qatar and Egypt. The extension comes just over 12 hours before the initial truce was set to conclude.
While the last-minute accord facilitated by Qatar and Egypt provides a temporary respite from ongoing hostilities, the European Union’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, has underscored the imperative need for the temporary ceasefire to evolve into a lasting truce.
“It makes no sense to give food to somebody that will be killed the day after. We need to stop the bombardment,” Borrell said.
Contrary to growing calls for a permanent ceasefire, Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant said on Monday that when fighting resumes it will be more intense and spread across the Gaza Strip.
As part of the temporary ceasefire, 11 hostages held by Hamas were released on Monday, bringing the number of Israelis freed under the ceasefire to 50, plus 19 hostages of other nationalities, out of some 240 captured during the sudden Hamas attack in southern Israel on 7 October.
In return, Israel continues to release Palestinian prisoners. Thirty-three Palestinians were released from Israeli prisons late on Monday, including 30 children and three women. During the release celebrations, Israeli troops clashed with the crowd, resulting in the death of one Palestinian, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health.
Meanwhile, the Israeli Ministry of Justice has published a list of 50 Palestinian women considered ‘eligible for release’. It complements a previous list of 300 eligible detainees, 150 of whom have been freed so far.
Among those listed for possible release is Ahed Tamimi, a prominent 22-year-old activist. She was most recently arrested on 6 November during a series of Israeli raids in the West Bank.
Gaza officials say more than 15,000 Palestinians have been killed since 7 October, including more than 6,150 children and 4,000 women. Another 7,000, including 4,700 women and children, remain unaccounted for.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has reported that 57 journalists have been killed in the conflict so far. The CPJ stressed that this was the deadliest month for journalists since the organisation began collecting data in 1992.