World leaders express optimism for prolonged Gaza truce

AFP , Ahram Online , Sunday 26 Nov 2023

Egypt, France and the US are optimistic about the possibility of extending the four-day truce in the Israeli war on Gaza.

Palestinians ride their bikes
Palestinians ride their bikes past a government building in Gaza City on November 26, 2023, on the third day of a truce between Israel and Hamas. AFP

Palestinian Hamas resistance group has indicated its willingness to prolong the ceasefire. On Sunday, Hamas released a third group of captives as part of the exchange for Palestinian prisoners.

This exchange is occurring within the context of a truce that commenced on Friday, following almost seven weeks of intense bombardment on Gaza triggered by Hamas's unprecedented attack on Israel on October 7.

The third batch of released captives includes 13 Israelis and 39 Palestinians imprisoned in Israeli jails, as reported by Diaa Rashwan, the head of Egypt's State Information Service.

Despite Israel's vow to continue the war after the truce expires, efforts are underway to negotiate an extension.

Communication with all involved parties is ongoing, with the aim of extending the truce for one or two additional days, according to Rashwan.

US President Joe Biden is advocating for an extension, given the numerous captives still held by Hamas and the dire humanitarian crisis in Gaza following weeks of Israeli occupation forces bombardment and siege.

The truce, mediated by Egypt, Qatar, and the US, has provided a temporary respite from attacks on Gaza, enabling the easing of restrictions on the entry of humanitarian aid for the 2.4 million Palestinians in the besieged strip.

French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna emphasized the importance of extending the truce to facilitate the release of captives. While no French captives have been freed yet, Colonna expressed optimism, stating, "There are lists drawn up during the negotiations through Qatar, but Hamas makes its choices within these lists."

A source close to Hamas revealed that the Islamist movement is open to extending the current truce for up to four days beyond its initial expiry date.

The source informed mediators that resistance movements were willing to extend the truce, believing it could lead to the release of 20 to 40 Israeli prisoners.

Israeli officials claim that on October 7, Hamas militants took around 240 captives and killed 1,200 people in the deadliest attack in the country's history. In response, Israel has vowed to "crush" Hamas and initiated a lethal and barbaric air, sea and ground invasion against the civilians in the Gaza Strip.

The Palestinian health ministry reports that nearly 15,000 people, two-thirds of them women and children, have been killed by the Israeli offensive on Gaza.

Short link: