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Truce Extension Negotiations Continue Between Israel and Hamas Amid Hostage Release

As the truce between Israel and Hamas enters its sixth day, negotiators are actively working towards extending the ceasefire, aiming to secure the release of additional hostages and further delay the resumption of the Israeli military campaign in the Gaza Strip.

The current pause in hostilities has seen the release of 81 hostages by Hamas over the first five days, predominantly women and children. In return, Israel has released 180 Palestinian women and minors from its prisons. This truce extension is particularly significant for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who faces intense public pressure to bring the hostages home.

Gershon Baskin, a former Israeli hostage negotiator, highlighted the primary interest for Israel in getting the hostages home, emphasizing the nation’s collective attention on their return. For Hamas, the extension provides a temporary break from fighting, enabling them to regroup and benefit from gradually increasing aid to the besieged territory.

The negotiation process faces complications as reports suggest that not all hostages are in Hamas’ possession. A diplomatic source revealed on Monday that more than 40 hostages are held by Palestinian Islamic Jihad or other groups, adding complexity to the negotiations. Israel contends that 159 hostages are still in Gaza, contradicting Hamas’ claim that they are unable to locate the remaining hostages.

Experts predict that despite the potential gains for both parties through a truce extension, the eventual resumption of Israel’s military campaign in Gaza is deemed inevitable. Some extreme right-wing ministers in Israel, such as Minister of National Security Itamar Ben-Gvir, have openly expressed their desire to resume fighting and have even threatened to break up the ruling coalition if the war ends.

International pressure may play a role in influencing the situation, with Hamas potentially hoping that it will discourage Israel from restarting the conflict. However, the Israeli public overwhelmingly supports decisive action against Hamas, as indicated by a recent poll conducted by the Israel Democracy Institute.

While negotiations continue, the intricacies surrounding the hostage situation and the differing perspectives within the Israeli government contribute to the uncertainty of the truce extension’s outcome.