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Cease-Fire Extended: Israel and Hamas Exchange Hostages in Latest Round

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Shivani Chauhan
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Cease-Fire Extended: Israel and Hamas Exchange Hostages in Latest Round

The cease-fire between Hamas and Israel, initially set for four days, has been extended by two more days, marking a significant breakthrough in the ongoing conflict. An integral part of this development is the latest exchange in which 12 hostages were released, bringing some respite to the tense situation in the Middle East.

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Exchange of Hostages and Prisoners

In the surprise attack by Hamas on Israel on October 7th, more than 200 people were taken hostage. These hostages were held in the war-ravaged Gaza Strip for nearly two months. A sign of relief came in the form of a truce, during which dozens of these hostages were released by Hamas. The militant group has thus far freed 81 hostages in exchange for 180 Palestinians being released from Israeli prisons. In the latest exchange, 12 more hostages are now safely back on Israeli territory.

The United States has played a crucial role in this conflict resolution by delivering more than 54,000 pounds of medical and food aid for Gaza. U.S. Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, is slated to meet his Israeli counterparts to reassure them of U.S. support and discuss getting humanitarian assistance to Gaza.

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Efforts to Extend the Truce

Efforts are underway to extend the truce, which was brokered on Monday, to facilitate the release of more hostages and prisoners. The truce is set to end on Thursday. Despite initial signs of the truce breaking down on Tuesday, it seems the incident will not derail the ongoing peace efforts.

During this truce, Israel has freed 150 Palestinian detainees, and Hamas has released 69 hostages. Among the released prisoners, 98 were detained without charge, and 119 were children. The heartbreaking story of Noam and Alma Or, a brother and sister duo held captive in Gaza, has been a stark reminder of the human cost of this conflict.

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Implications of the Truce

The decision by Israel and Hamas to extend their brief truce has created short-term benefits for both sides. An extended truce would give Hamas more time to regroup and reposition its forces. For Israel, each extension means the return of more of its citizens taken captive by Hamas. However, with each day’s release of Palestinians held in Israeli jails, Hamas’s popularity in the Israeli-occupied West Bank has surged, leaving Israel in a complicated situation.

The armed wing of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the Al Quds Brigades, has confirmed its involvement in hostage exchanges. This comes amidst warnings from the US against any large-scale offensive on southern Gaza by Israel. These events are unfolding against a backdrop of political tension within the Biden administration sparked by a top CIA official's pro-Palestine image posted on Facebook.

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