GAZA/PALASTINE – The truce between Israel and Hamas entered its final 24 hours on Monday, with the militant group saying it was willing to extend the pause, while United States President, Joe Biden, said he hoped it could continue as long as hostages were being released.
The Guardian reported that Hamas freed 17 more people on Sunday in the third exchange of hostages and prisoners under the four-day ceasefire deal that began on Friday, while Israel released 39 Palestinian detainees.
Israel faced enormous pressure from the families of hostages, as well as allies, to extend the truce to secure more releases.
Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who on Sunday made the first visit to Gaza by an Israeli premier since 2005, said he had spoken to Biden and would welcome extending the truce if it meant that on every additional day, 10 captives would be freed.
But Netanyahu said he also told the Biden that, at the end of the truce, “we will return with full force to achieve our goals” of eliminating Hamas and securing the remaining hostages’ released.
The latest captives to be freed include four-year-old dual Israeli-American national, Abigail Edan, whose parents were reportedly killed in the October 7, 2023 attacks.
Biden said her father was “gunned down while using his body to shield little Abigail”, who then ran to a neighbour’s house where she was taken hostage alongside another family.
He hoped that the “humanitarian pause” could be extended to allow more captives to be freed – and for more aid to be taken into Gaza.
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