Ceasefire Nears End as Hostage Exchange Continues in Israel-Hamas Conflict

As the four-day ceasefire between Israel and Hamas enters its final day, both parties are engaged in intense negotiations to extend the truce. The current agreement involves the release of 50 hostages and 150 Palestinian prisoners over the four days, with international mediators, led by the U.S. and Qatar, working to prolong the ceasefire.

Hamas has expressed its willingness to extend the truce, contingent on serious efforts to increase the number of Palestinian detainees released by Israel. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, addressing Israeli forces in Gaza, stated that the truce could be extended for an additional day for every 10 hostages freed. However, Israel has emphasized its commitment to swiftly resume its offensive once the ceasefire concludes.

The latest exchange saw the release of 17 hostages by Hamas, including a four-year-old American-Israeli girl named Abigail Edan, orphaned by the October 7 attack. In total, 39 Palestinian prisoners were released by Israel. The fragile ceasefire, which allowed for the first respite from weeks of bombardment, has garnered support from key nations, including the U.S. and Qatar.

U.S. President Joe Biden has voiced hope for the truce to continue as long as hostages are being released, expressing his goal to keep the pause going beyond the scheduled end. Biden highlighted the release of Abigail Edan, whose parents were killed by Hamas fighters, calling her ordeal “unthinkable.”

Negotiations for a possible extension are ongoing, with pressure mounting on Israel from hostage families and allies. The ceasefire, if extended, could provide an opportunity for more releases and humanitarian relief in Gaza.

November 25. Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters

The situation remains fluid, with Egypt, Qatar, and the U.S. pressing for a multiday extension.

The ceasefire, marred by the conflict that has claimed over 14,500 lives in Gaza since October 7, continues to be a focal point for diplomatic efforts to ease tensions and secure further releases. The coming hours will determine whether the truce is extended or if both parties revert to hostilities.

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