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Last day of the Hamas-Israel truce, discussions to extend it | Middle East, the eternal conflict

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People gather in Tel Aviv, Israel, to mark the release of hostages by Hamas, November 26, 2023.

Agence France-Presse

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The truce between Israel and Hamas, which allowed the release of hostages, prisoners and emergency aid in the Gaza Strip, enters its fourth and final day on Monday, against a backdrop of talks for the extend.

During the night from Sunday to Monday, the Palestinian armed Islamist movement said in a press release that it was seeking to extend the truce beyond its four days in order to increase the number of prisoners released as planned in the agreement.

A source close to Hamas told AFP that the Palestinian movement informed the mediators that it was in favor of an extension of two to four days.

The agreement, negotiated by Qatar with the support of the United States and Egypt and entered into force on Friday, provides for four days of truce, the passage of humanitarian aid to Gaza and the release of 50 hostages, of the more than 200 still held in Gaza, and 150 Palestinian prisoners held in Israel.

Follow our live coverage of the Israel-Hamas war for the latest news.

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Since Friday, 39 hostages have been released under the agreement – ​​in addition to 24 hostages outside the agreement, mostly Thais who worked in Israel – as well as 117 Palestinian prisoners, in a ratio of one hostage for three prisoners.

However, a provision of the agreement allows its renewal to release around ten hostages daily in the hands of Hamas in the Gaza Strip in exchange for the release of around thirty Palestinian prisoners imprisoned in Israel .

Among the hostages released on Sunday was a four-year-old girl with American nationality, named Abigail, who was orphaned during the unprecedented attack of Hamas commandos in Israeli territory on October 7.

According to a senior American official, his mother was first murdered before his eyes. Her father tried to protect her before being killed in turn. Abigail then fled to neighbors, where she was taken hostage.

According to the Israeli army , the girl who was three years old when she was kidnapped turned four years old while she was detained by Hamas.

She suffered terrible trauma, declared American President Joe Biden, affirming that he, like France, wanted the truce to be extended.

She [Abigail ] no longer has parents, but she has an entire country that hugs her. We will take good care of her, declared Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who spoke with Mr. Biden.

Arrangements call for the release of ten more hostages every day and that is a blessing. But I also told the president that we will, after the agreement, return to our objective: to eliminate Hamas and ensure that the Gaza Strip is no longer what it was, added Mr. Netanyahu.

The Israeli leader, who is due to ask the government on Monday for a war budget of 30 billion shekels (more than 10 billion Canadian dollars), called for victory on Sunday in the first trip by an Israeli government in Gaza since its unilateral withdrawal from this Palestinian territory in 2005.

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Aviva Adrienne Siegel, 62, was released after being taken hostage during the October 7 attack by the Palestinian group Hamas.

In the occupied West Bank, buses from the International Committee of the Red Cross took freed prisoners to Ramallah and Beitunia, greeted by flag-waving crowds Palestinians, Hamas and other factions.

I feel both happy and confused because there is the blood of martyrs in general. I am sad for our martyrs and happy for the victory obtained by our resistance, declared in Beitunia, Yazan Sabah, a young prisoner released as part of this truce.

Israel launched its offensive in the Gaza Strip in the wake of the bloody attack carried out by Hamas in Israeli territory on October 7 which left, according to the Israeli authorities, 1,200 dead, the vast majority of them civilians. The Israeli army estimated the total number of hostages taken to Gaza at 240.

In retaliation for this attack, Israel promised to eliminate the Islamist movement which took power in the Gaza Strip in 2007 and was classified as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union and Israel.

According to the Hamas government, 14,854 people, including 6,150 under the age of 18, were killed by Israeli strikes. Gaza Civil Defense puts the number of people missing at 7,000.

If the truce offered respite to Gazans, the humanitarian situation there remains dangerous and the needs are unprecedented, estimates the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA).

Since Friday, 248 trucks loaded with aid have been able to enter the Gaza Strip, according to the UN.

We should send 200 trucks per day for at least two months to meet the needs, UNRWA spokesperson Adnan Abou Hasna told AFP , specifying that there was neither drinking water nor food in certain areas.

They're talking about bringing help and fuel, but I've been at the gas station for nine hours and it's still closed, a deplored Sunday in Khan Younès (south) Bilal Diab, a Palestinian interviewed by AFP.

The Israeli army, which considers the northern third of the Gaza Strip a war zone, had already ordered the population to leave and barred anyone from returning during the truce.

Despite this warning, thousands of displaced Gaza residents took advantage of the truce to try to return home to the north.

In Gaza City transformed into a field of ruins, residents walked through the dust on Sunday, between piles of rubble, the streets lined with devastated buildings, according to reports images from AFP.

Moreover, more than half of the territory's housing was damaged or destroyed by the war, according to the UN, and 1.7 million people were displaced, out of 2.4 million inhabitants.

Hospitals in the south of the territory continue to receive many injured people evacuated from the north, where almost all health establishments are at a standstill.

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