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Israel-Hamas Truce Holds Firm as Hostage Releases Continue

November 28, 2023 — Israeli forces and Hamas fighters are maintaining the truce for a fifth consecutive morning, with discussions underway for further extensions. The ceasefire, initially set for four days, was extended last minute for at least two more days to facilitate the release of additional hostages.

A calm morning prevailed on Tuesday, marked by a single column of black smoke rising above the war-torn northern Gaza zone. No signs of aerial activity or explosions were reported. In the Sheikh Radwan district of Gaza City, both sides acknowledged some Israeli tank fire, attributed to a warning shot after suspects approached IDF troops. No immediate reports of casualties were received.

During the truce, Hamas released 50 Israeli women and children, including toddlers, among the 240 hostages captured during a violent episode in southern Israel on October 7. In reciprocal action, Israel released 150 security detainees, all women and teenagers. Additionally, Hamas separately released 19 foreign hostages, primarily Thai farmworkers, under parallel agreements.

The possibility of an indefinite extension looms as Israel conditions further truce extensions on Hamas releasing a minimum of 10 hostages daily. However, the decreasing number of women and children in captivity may necessitate negotiations for the release of Israeli men for the first time.

Hamas official Khalil Al-Hayya stated, “We hope the Occupation (Israel) abides (by the agreement) in the next two days because we are seeking a new agreement, besides women and children, whereby other categories that we have that we can swap.”

Israeli Security Cabinet Minister Gideon Saar affirmed that the two-day extension adhered to the original offer’s terms, expressing Israel’s willingness to extend the truce further if more hostages were released. He warned that the end of the truce would be marked by a resumption of hostilities.

“The warfighting will be renewed immediately upon the completion of the hostage-recovery framework. We have every intention of implementing the goals of the war as it applies to toppling Hamas in Gaza,” Saar declared.

The truce has provided the first respite to the Gaza Strip in seven weeks, allowing more aid to reach the territory under total Israeli siege. Israel has vowed to dismantle Hamas, the group governing Gaza, following a deadly incursion that resulted in around 1,200 casualties and 240 captives.

As the truce persists, clashes occurred outside Ofer prison in the West Bank, where the final 33 detainees were released. Palestinian protesters, waving flags of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, clashed with Israeli forces, resulting in one Palestinian death. Israel added 50 Palestinian women to its list of detainees cleared for release, signaling potential negotiations for further hostage releases.

The release of male Israeli civilians is anticipated to begin with fathers and husbands captured alongside the recently freed women and children. Relatives express relief at the release of hostages but acknowledge the challenging rehabilitation ahead for those who have endured traumatic experiences.

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Truce Holds as Hostages Released and Prisoners Freed in Israel-Gaza Exchange

In a significant development, the truce between Hamas and Israel has entered its third day, marked by the release of hostages and prisoners on both sides. Here’s a summary of the latest updates:

Hostage Release:

  • A group of 17 released hostages, including 13 Israelis and four Thai nationals, arrived in Israel after leaving Gaza in a Red Cross convoy late Saturday local time.
  • The release follows a delay, with obstacles reportedly overcome through mediation. Qatar’s foreign ministry spokesperson stated that disputes over aid and the selection of Palestinian prisoners caused the delay.

Prisoner Exchange:

  • Simultaneously, 39 Palestinian detainees and prisoners were released from Israeli jails, including 33 teenage boys and six women.
  • The release is part of the truce agreement between Hamas and Israel.

Truce Dispute Resolved:

  • Disputes over the release of hostages were resolved, according to Qatar’s foreign ministry spokesperson, facilitating the exchange between the two parties.
  • Hamas had cited aid disputes and the selection of prisoners as reasons for the delay.

Next Hostage Release:

  • Israel has received a list of hostages scheduled to be released on Sunday, with security officials currently verifying the list, as reported by Israel’s Prime Minister’s office.

Details on Released Hostages:

  • Among the Israeli hostages freed on Saturday were 9-year-old Emily Hand and 21-year-old Maya Regev. Regev was taken to Soroka Hospital for the treatment of a moderate injury.

Care for Foreign Nationals:

  • Four Thai nationals released by Hamas late Saturday are assured “dedicated care” by Israel, according to Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen.

Humanitarian Aid and Convoy:

  • The Palestine Red Crescent Society received 187 trucks from the Egyptian Red Crescent on Saturday.
  • The UN dispatched a convoy to northern Gaza consisting of 61 trucks.
  • US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin called for an increase in humanitarian aid and fuel delivered to Gaza.

As the truce continues, the exchange of hostages and prisoners, along with the delivery of humanitarian aid, marks a step toward de-escalation in the region. The international community closely watches the developments as efforts are made to consolidate the fragile ceasefire.

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Fuel Trucks Enter Gaza as Truce Takes Hold

At least seven fuel trucks and aid convoys entered Gaza through the Rafah border crossing with Egypt on Friday, November 24, 2023, signaling the apparent initiation of a truce between Israel and Hamas. The truce allowed for the delivery of essential humanitarian supplies, including fuel and cooking gas, approved by the Israeli government.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) reported the destruction of tunnels near Gaza City’s Al-Shifa Hospital area and completed operational preparations ahead of the agreed-upon truce. The IDF statement mentioned ongoing strikes on targets in the lead-up to the truce, without specifying the number of attacks.

Thailand welcomed the truce but expressed concern for its citizens held by militants in Gaza, including over 200 people abducted in October. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs hoped for the prompt release of the remaining hostages, with a commitment from mediators to free 50 individuals, mostly women and children, during a four-day humanitarian pause.

In a precautionary move, the Israeli military instructed people in southern Gaza not to move north, restricting travel from north to south to a single road. Flyers were reportedly dropped over parts of the Gaza Strip with this notice.