The prime minister said he would delay the resumption of hostilities by one additional day for every ten hostages released
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has signaled that Israel is prepared to extend the current truce with Hamas but warned that West Jerusalem will resume its offensive after it is over. Meanwhile, the armed Palestinian group has also backed the idea of extending the four-day ceasefire.
In a video statement released on Sunday, Netanyahu said he had discussed with US President Joe Biden the release of hostages held in Gaza – a key point in the recent agreement with Hamas.
He noted that Israel had brought home another group of hostages from the Palestinian enclave. “I am moved to the depths of my heart, the entire nation is, when we see families reunited,” the prime minister said.
Netanyahu reiterated that Israel was ready to prolong the ceasefire with Hamas, scheduled to end on Monday night, on the condition that for every additional day of lull, Hamas releases another ten hostages.
“At the same time, I also told President Biden that at the end of the outline, we will go to realizing our goals with full force: Eliminating Hamas, ensuring that Gaza will not go back to being what it was, and – of course – releasing all of our hostages,” he added.
Hamas seized some 240 hostages, including many foreigners, after launching a surprise attack on Israel on October 7. Intense Qatari-brokered talks led to an agreement last week in which Hamas agreed to release 50 hostages held in Gaza in exchange for 150 Palestinians in stages. The truce also allowed hundreds of trucks loaded with humanitarian aid to flow into the besieged enclave.
To date, 39 Israeli hostages and 117 Palestinian prisoners have been swapped. In addition, more than two dozen people captured by Palestinian militants were set free as part of separate agreements.
In a statement on Sunday, Hamas said that it was seeking to extend the truce “through serious efforts to increase the number of those released from imprisonment.” A source close to the group told AFP that Hamas was willing to prolong the ceasefire by “two to four days.”
“The resistance believes it is possible to ensure the release of 20 to 40 Israeli prisoners,” the official pointed out.
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