The six-day truce between Hamas and Israel was extended for an additional day “in light of the mediators’ efforts to continue the process of releasing the hostages,” announced the Israeli military on 30 November.
The truce, which was initially set to run for four days before being extended to six, saw three Palestinian captives held in Israeli prisons released for every Israeli captive held in Gaza.
Though there are hopes that the extensions give negotiators more time to make the truce permanent, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made his intentions to return to Israel’s war on Gaza clear.
“In recent days I have heard a question: After completing this stage of the return of our hostages, will Israel go back to the fighting? My answer is an unequivocal yes,” he said in a statement on 29 November, adding that “there is no situation in which we do not go back to fighting until the end.”
So far, more than 70 Israeli women and children were released in exchange for 180 Palestinian women and children, according to Reuters. Further foreign nationals were released in separate agreements.
The sixth hostage swap took place late on 29 November and early on 30 November, with 10 Israelis and four Thai nationals released in exchange for 15 Palestinian women and 15 boys.
All but one of those released by Israel were detained after 7 October, reported Palestinian state-run news agency WAFA.
WAFA added that families of those released in Jerusalem were intimidated and ordered not to celebrate publicly.
CNN reported that 80 percent of those on Israel’s list for potential release were held without charge.
THE CONFLICT SO FAR
After a surprise attack conducted on 7 October by Hamas on a number of southern Israeli towns, which resulted in the deaths of an estimated 1,200 people and more than 220 being taken hostage by Hamas, Israel launched a retaliatory bombing campaign against what it describes as ‘terrorist targets’ in the Gaza Strip.
At least 14,500 Palestinians have been killed in the Gaza Strip — including at least 5,500 children — and over 32,000 others injured. Meanwhile, at least 225 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank and more than 2,700 injured. The death toll is no longer being regularly updated due to the collapse of the enclave’s health system.
Israel and Hamas reached an agreement on 22 November, announcing a four-day cessation of hostilities to facilitate the release of 50 hostages held in Gaza, 150 Palestinians imprisoned in Israel, and the entry of humanitarian aid. The truce began on 24 November.
During an event in support of Palestine at Cairo International Stadium, President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi stressed that the forced relocation of Palestinians is a “red line” for Egypt, and will not be accepted.
The priority of the Egyptian government since the beginning of the conflict has been deescalation and the securing of a path for aid to enter the Gaza Strip through the Rafah crossing.