The ceasefire-for-hostages arrangement between Israel and Hamas, under which 73 Israelis have already been released from captivity by the terror group, has been extended until Friday, Qatar’s foreign ministry announced on Thursday morning.
Twenty-three Thais and one Filipino have also been freed from captivity. in the Gaza Strip
“Palestinian and Israeli sides have reached an agreement to extend the humanitarian pause in the Gaza Strip for an additional day under the existing conditions, which are a cessation of all military activities and the entry of humanitarian aid to Gaza,” according to a statement by Qatari Foreign Ministry spokesman Majed al-Ansari.
The Israel Defense Forces on Thursday morning confirmed that the pause in the fighting would persist.
“In light of the mediators’ efforts to continue the process of releasing the abductees and subject to the terms of the agreement, the ceasefire will continue,” the IDF said.
The announcement came after AFP reported on Wednesday that Hamas had requested an extension of the ceasefire, which was set to expire on Thursday morning.
Israel has received the next list of hostages to be released on Thursday, the Prime Minister’s Office confirmed in the morning. Notice was given to families.
The War Cabinet unanimously decided on Wednesday night that if the list of women and children to be released was not received by 7 a.m. on Thursday morning, “fighting would resume at once.”
The list includes eight women and children instead of the 10 that was agreed upon per day for the ceasefire extension to continue. Hamas will also reportedly release the corpses of three hostages.
Hamas is believed to be holding enough Israeli women and children in Gaza for the ceasefire to be extended for at least two more days, CNN reported on Wednesday.
On Monday, the sides agreed to extend the ceasefire for up to six days, on the condition that Hamas released 10 Israeli women and children each day. Israel has also agreed to free three jailed Palestinian terrorists for each hostage.
In addition to a pause in fighting, the original deal, agreed to on Nov. 24, includes humanitarian aid and fuel entering the Gaza Strip.
Officials representing Israel, Qatar, Egypt and the United States are involved in the negotiations in Doha.
Qatari and Egyptian negotiators are pushing for a new two-day extension of the truce, including more jailed Palestinian terrorists released and an increase in humanitarian aid to Gaza, Reuters reported on Thursday afternoon, citing Egyptian state media.
Hamas kidnapped some 240 people during its Oct. 7 assault on southern Israel, during which thousands of heavily armed gunmen murdered some 1,200 people and wounded more than 5,000 others.
Approximately 150 Israelis and foreigners are still in Hamas captivity, including Kfir Bibas, who was 9 months old when he was taken hostage on Oct. 7 along with his parents and 4-year-old brother Ariel.
The Al-Qassam Brigades did not present evidence, and the IDF said it was investigating.
According to a report in The Washington Post, citing a source familiar with the talks in Qatar, negotiators have agreed on five categories of hostages after all women and children are freed: men too old for reserve military duty; female soldiers; male reservists; active-duty male soldiers and the bodies of Israelis who died before or during captivity.
The source said that no commitments have been made during the discussions but “there is a willingness on both sides” to reach “a broad deal that would free all Israeli captives in exchange for longer pauses in fighting, release of more Palestinian [security] prisoners and more humanitarian assistance for Palestinians in Gaza.”
Meanwhile, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi approved battle plans for the end of the ceasefire during a meeting at the Southern Command headquarters in Beersheva on Wednesday, the military said.
“We know what needs to be done, and are ready for the next stage,” said Halevi, according to the statement.