In what is being hailed as a positive movement towards peace, a one-day extension to the truce between Israel and Hamas has led to the anticipated release of 10 Israeli hostages from Gaza. The list of hostages, which includes two Russian citizens, marks a significant increase from previous expectations of eight releases. Speculation abounds that the release of the two Russian hostages may be due to a separate arrangement between Hamas and Moscow.
Rejection and Confirmation
Despite Israel's earlier rejection of a list from Hamas that included the bodies of three Israeli hostages, a senior Hamas official has confirmed their return. This development comes in the wake of ongoing negotiations and Israel's decision to extend the temporary ceasefire in Gaza for another day to forestall the resumption of hostilities. The Israeli Prime Minister's Office (PMO) has stated that the family members of the hostages on the current list have been duly notified of the scheduled release.
Confusion and Extension
Unconfirmed reports have cast a shadow of confusion over the exact number of hostages and bodies to be released. However, Qatar's Foreign Ministry has confirmed the truce extension under the same terms as the previous days. This involves the release of at least 10 Israelis daily.
In a significant international move, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has arrived in Israel to hold discussions on aid for Gaza and the continuation of the truce. Since the initiation of the ceasefire, a total of 97 civilians have been released from Hamas captivity. However, approximately 145 hostages, including women and children, are still believed to be in captivity in Gaza. Israel demands the release of all remaining civilian women and children before considering additional agreements. Hamas, on the other hand, is seeking a longer pause that includes the exchange of hostages for Palestinian prisoners and aid deliveries.