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Hamas ready to extend truce to ; Gaza | Middle East, the eternal conflict

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A newly released Palestinian prisoner is welcomed in the occupied West Bank on November 28, after the release of prisoners by Israeli authorities in exchange for Israeli hostages held in Gaza by Hamas.

Agence France-Presse

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Hamas said on Wednesday it was ready to extend the truce in the Gaza Strip by four days and release new hostages, while international mediators step up efforts to achieve a lasting end to the fighting between the Palestinian Islamist movement and Israel.

A new exchange of hostages held in the Gaza Strip since October 7 for Palestinian prisoners held by Israel is expected on Wednesday, the sixth day of this truce which has allowed the massive entry of humanitarian aid in the besieged Palestinian territory, devastated by seven weeks of Israeli bombardments.

After a first extension of the truce until Thursday 7 a.m. local), a source close to Hamas told AFP on Wednesday that the Islamist movement had agreed to extend it for four more days.

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Tal Goldstein-Almog, 9, was released from the Gaza Strip on November 26.

Hamas is able to release Israeli prisoners it is holding with other resistance movements and other parties during this period, under the current agreement and at the same time. conditions, said this source.

Middle East, the eternal conflict

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Every day since November 24, Hamas has released around ten women and children kidnapped during its bloody attack in Israel on October 7, against release of three times more Palestinian prisoners.

The truce agreement, negotiated mainly by Qatar with the support of Egypt and the United States, has already enabled the release of 60 Israeli hostages and 180 Palestinian detainees.

In addition, 21 foreign hostages, mostly Thais living in Israel, were released outside the framework of this agreement. Hamas announced that several Russian hostages would be released on Wednesday.

The office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, for its part, declared that it had received the list of hostages to be released during the day.

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Taking advantage of the truce of a few days, a woman washes and dries clothes in a chaotic setting in Khan Younes after the Israeli bombings on Gaza.

The authorities Israeli authorities estimated that around 240 people were kidnapped on October 7, during the unprecedented attack launched by Hamas from the Gaza Strip, which cost the lives of some 1,200 people in Israel, the vast majority of them civilians.

Hamas said it held the majority of the hostages, while others are in the hands of different Palestinian armed groups.

In retaliation for the x27;Hamas attack, Israel promised to annihilate the Islamist movement, in power since 2007 in the Gaza Strip, shelling the Palestinian territory and launching a ground offensive on October 27, until the truce.< /p>

According to the Hamas government, 14,854 people, including 6,150 under the age of 18, were killed in Israeli strikes.

Few direct testimonies have filtered through on the living conditions of the hostages in Gaza. But the grandmother of Eitan Yahalomi, a 12-year-old released Monday, said he was held in solitary confinement for 16 days.

The days he was alone were horrible, Esther Yaeli told Israeli news site Walla. Now, Eitan seems very withdrawn.

Benyamin Netanyahu again promised on Tuesday to release all hostages from Hamas, classified as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union and Israel.

The Israeli army is ready to resume fighting. We are taking advantage of the break days to […] strengthen our preparation, said Israeli Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi.

On Tuesday, ten Israeli hostages and two Thais were released, as were 30 Palestinian prisoners.

In East Jerusalem, occupied and annexed by Israel, Ahmed Salaima, a 14-year-old Palestinian ex-detainee, was reunited with his family on Tuesday evening, according to AFP images. He is the youngest Palestinian prisoner to be released since the truce began.

I can never thank God enough for the release of my son, exclaimed his father, Nayef Salaima, who explained that he lost all contact with him when the war started.

Behind the scenes, the mediators are working to further extend the truce. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is expected back in Israel and the West Bank on Thursday. He declared on Wednesday in Brussels that he was going there in particular to try to extend the truce.

Our main objective at x27;current time, and our hope, is to achieve a lasting truce that will lead to new negotiations and, ultimately, an end to the war, declared the spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Qatar, Majed Al Ansari.

The heads of the American and Israeli intelligence services visited Doha on Tuesday to discuss ways to consolidate the truce with Qatar's prime minister, according to an informed source.

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More than 80 trucks loaded with food and fuel arrive in Rafah to ensure supplies to the Gaza Strip.

Despite the arrival since November 24, via Egypt, of hundreds of humanitarian aid trucks in the Gaza Strip, the situation there remains catastrophic, judged the World Food Program (WFP), estimating that there is a risk of famine.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said it had seen a massive increase of certain contagious diseases, including 45 times more cases of diarrhea in young children than usual, even though most hospitals in the Gaza Strip are at a standstill.

According to a White House official, the amount of humanitarian aid arriving by road now totals 2,000 truckloads of food, fuel, medicine and equipment needed to operate the city's water desalination infrastructure. Wed.

In just over four weeks, we reached a sustained rate of 240 trucks per day, said this manager. We have made it very clear that when this phase of releasing the hostages is over, the current pace or ideally higher rates must be maintained, he added.

Already subject to an Israeli land, sea and air blockade since 2007, the small, overpopulated territory was placed under total siege by Israel on October 9.

According to the UN, 1.7 million of its 2.4 million inhabitants have been displaced by the war and more than half of the homes have been damaged or destroyed.

We have had no water, food or flour for ten days. The situation is tough, very tough, Achraf Selim, a resident of Gaza, tells AFP.

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Palestinians prepare bread near their destroyed homes in Kuza, Gaza Strip, during the temporary ceasefire between Hamas and Israel, Wednesday November 29, 2023.

Thousands of Palestinians, displaced in the south of the Gaza Strip, took advantage of the truce to return to their homes in the north, the most devastated region, ignoring the ban by the Israeli army which there took control of several areas.

On Wednesday, in Gaza City, people carrying cans lined up near a tank for stock up on drinking water.

People come here on foot, from far away, about 10, 20 or 30 kilometers, just to get drinking water, explained to AFP Mohammed Matar, the owner of a water desalination plant.

We rarely receive fuel . This means we cannot provide water to the population, he added.

In the ruins of the mosque Nour al-Mohamedein, in Gaza City, where only the minaret remains standing, children were pulling books out of the rubble, according to images shot by AFP.

Around the Al-Shifa hospital, stormed on November 15 by the Israeli army after having served as a refuge for civilians, wooden stakes driven into the freshly turned earth indicate anonymous graves.

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