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Hopes for extension of truce in Gaza

As the Pope calls for the extension of the truce in Gaza, international mediators appear to be making progress on that front, encouraging Hamas militants to keep freeing hostages in exchange for the release of Palestinian prisoners. The cease-fire will otherwise end within a day.

Israel has welcomed the release of dozens of hostages in recent days and says it will maintain the truce if Hamas keeps freeing captives.

But it also says it is committed to its other major goal — the annihilation of the armed group that has ruled Gaza for 16 years and orchestrated the deadly attack on Israel that triggered the war on 7 October.

Weeks of heavy aerial bombardment and a ground invasion have demolished vast swaths of northern Gaza and killed, injured and displaced thousands of Palestinians, many of them children.

But observers say the offensive seems to have had little effect on Hamas’ rule, as evidenced by its ability to conduct complex negotiations, enforce the cease-fire among other armed groups, and orchestrate the smooth release of hostages.

Meanwhile Hamas leaders, they say, have likely relocated to the south, along with hundreds of thousands of displaced Palestinians who have packed into overflowing shelters.

All this as Israel’s main ally, the United States, has asked that the offensive be conducted with far greater precision, especially in the south.

That approach, analysts explain, could make it more difficult to weaken Hamas any time soon, and international pressure for a lasting cease-fire is already mounting.

Meanwhile, a top Egyptian diplomat said negotiations to extend the cease-fire and release more hostages have made progress and that it is “highly likely” another extension will be announced Wednesday.

Mediation by Egypt, Qatar, US

Egypt, along with Qatar and the U.S., played a key role in mediating the original cease-fire and the two-day extension.

Since the start of the war, more than 13,300 Palestinians have been killed, and thousands more people are missing and feared dead under the rubble.

Israel said Wednesday that around 160 hostages are still being held in Gaza. So far,  60 Israelis have been freed as part of the truce, and 21 non-Israeli hostages have been released in separate negotiations.

The latest swap brought to 180 the number of Palestinians freed from Israeli prisons. Most are teenagers accused of throwing stones and firebombs during confrontations with Israeli forces. (Source AP)

By Vatican News

2023-12-01T17:20:45+00:00 December 1st, 2023|Categories: News|