On Monday, Israel confirmed the safe arrival of 11 additional hostages released in the Gaza Strip. This news came just hours after the declaration of a two-day extension to the truce between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, paving the way for more potential releases.
Just before its expiration on Tuesday, Hamas declared the extension of the ceasefire by an additional 48 hours, although there was no immediate confirmation from Israel.
The decision was nonetheless praised by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who described it as "a glimpse of hope and humanity in the middle of the darkness of war".
On late Monday, the Israeli military declared that 11 hostages had safely reached Israeli territory.
"Our forces will accompany them until they are reunited with their families," the IDF said in a statement, adding that the military "salutes and embraces the released hostages upon their return home".
Following the confirmation of the hostages' arrival, Israel's prison authority announced the release of 33 Palestinian inmates. This disclosure came early Tuesday, stating that the prisoners were freed "during the night".
This action increased the total number of detainees released by Israel to 150 during the initial four-day ceasefire.
According to Qatar, who assisted in mediating the agreement, the freed Israelis hold dual citizenships of France, Germany, and Argentina.
Qatar, backed by the United States and Egypt, has been deeply involved in strenuous negotiations to initiate and extend the ceasefire in Gaza.
Majed Al Ansari, the spokesperson for Qatar's foreign ministry, announced that a decision has been made to prolong the humanitarian ceasefire in the Gaza Strip for two more days.
Hamas, the Palestinian terror group that governs Gaza and triggered the war when its terrorist attacked and killed over 1,400 people in Israel last month, has reportedly said it was drawing up a new list of hostages for release.
Israel has stated that the temporary halt is intended to enable Hamas to release around 240 captives they have detained since the attack on 7 October.
Over the initial four days, a total of 50 hostages and 150 Palestinian prisoners were to be exchanged.
On Sunday, the third batch of hostages was set free, which included Abigail, a four-year-old American girl.
Tragically, both of her parents were victims of the 7 October attack, the most devastating incident the country has experienced since its establishment in 1948.
Despite facing pressure to prolong the ceasefire, Israel's leadership has rejected any proposals for a permanent cessation of the offensive.
"We continue until the end -- until victory," Netanyahu said in Gaza on Sunday, the first visit to the strip by an Israeli premier since 2005.
His office has proposed a military budget of 30 billion shekels (equivalent to $8 billion) for a period of 90 days.
Wearing military fatigues and surrounded by soldiers, Netanyahu vowed to free all the hostages and "eliminate Hamas", footage posted by his office showed.
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