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Israel, Hamas extend truce by 2 days; 20 more hostages to be released

This image taken from the Israeli border with the Gaza Strip on October 29, 2023, shows a black cloud of smoke ascending from the Gaza Strip amid the ongoing battles between Israel and the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas. The Israeli army has raised the number of troops fighting inside the Gaza Strip, a spokesman said on October 29, 2023, as the military stepped up its war on Hamas in the Palestinian territory. Thousands of civilians, both Palestinians and Israelis, have died since October 7, 2023, after Hamas terrorists based in the Gaza Strip stormed into southern Israel in an unprecedented attack, torturing and murdering civilians, triggering a war declared by Israel on Hamas with retaliatory bombings on Gaza.
This image taken from the Israeli border with the Gaza Strip on October 29, 2023, shows a black cloud of smoke ascending from the Gaza Strip amid the ongoing battles between Israel and the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas. The Israeli army has raised the number of troops fighting inside the Gaza Strip, a spokesman said on October 29, 2023, as the military stepped up its war on Hamas in the Palestinian territory. Thousands of civilians, both Palestinians and Israelis, have died since October 7, 2023, after Hamas terrorists based in the Gaza Strip stormed into southern Israel in an unprecedented attack, torturing and murdering civilians, triggering a war declared by Israel on Hamas with retaliatory bombings on Gaza. | FADEL SENNA/AFP via Getty Images

Israel and Hamas have extended their truce agreement to include an additional two days, with the plan to exchange more Israeli hostages and Palestinian prisoners during that time.

Qatar, which has helped mediate negotiations between the two sides, announced the truce extension on Monday via a foreign ministry spokesperson.

An official for Hamas, a terrorist group that has controlled the Gaza Strip since 2007, told Reuters that an agreement has been reached with the help of Qatar and Egypt "to extend the temporary humanitarian truce by two more days, with the same conditions as in the previous truce."

As part of this agreement, Hamas will release 10 hostages on Tuesday and 10 more on Wednesday. Meanwhile, Israel will release 30 prisoners each day, according to The Times of Israel

On Oct. 7, Hamas launched a large-scale surprise attack on Southern Israel from the Gaza Strip, killing an estimated 1,200 people, including 31 Americans, and taking about 240 hostages.

In response, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared war. Israel Defense Forces launched retaliatory airstrikes and a ground invasion in Gaza to eradicate Hamas and free the hostages. According to the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry, over 13,000 Palestinians have been killed since the beginning of the war. Gaza death figures don't distinguish between combatants and civilians. 

The Israeli strikes have taken out multiple senior Hamas officials and prompted the militant wing of the group to retreat southward, The Jerusalem Post reported last week.

Hamas and Israel agreed to an initial four-day truce last week. Under the terms of the truce, the Islamic terror organization agreed to release 50 hostages, while Israel would agree to release 150 Palestinian prisoners.

The agreement also allowed for trucks filled with humanitarian supplies to enter Gaza to help Palestinian civilians impacted by the fighting.

The exchange occurred over four days, with Hamas releasing 13 Israelis while Israel released 39 prisoners last Friday. Hamas also freed 10 Thai nationals and one Filipino who had been taken hostage as part of a separate agreement.

Taking place on the Gaza Strip's border with Egypt, released hostages were handed over to the Red Cross first and then sent back to Israel.

On Saturday evening, following a postponement driven by the militant wing of Hamas, another 13 Israeli hostages and four Thai nationals were freed, while 39 Palestinian prisoners were released.

One of the released Palestinians was Israa Jaabees, a woman accused of attempted murder who was jailed in 2015 after her car exploded at a checkpoint, disfiguring her and seriously wounding an Israeli police officer.  

Hamas freed 17 hostages on Sunday, among them including a 4-year-old American girl named Abigail Edan, who had reportedly witnessed Hamas murder her parents on Oct. 7.

According to Turkish news outlet Anadolu Agency, 150 trucks with humanitarian aid and fuel have been able to enter Gaza over the weekend.

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