The humanitarian ceasefire between Israel and Hamas was extended early Thursday morning, shortly before the six-day truce was set to expire.
“The operational pause will continue in light of the mediators’ efforts to continue the process of releasing the hostages and subject to the terms of the framework,” the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) announced on X, formerly Twitter. The announcement came minutes before the expiration of the truce.
The conditions of the ceasefire, including the halt of hostilities and the entry of humanitarian aid, remain the same, according to a foreign ministry spokesperson from Qatar.
Qatari Foreign Ministry spokesman Majid bin Muhammad Al-Ansari said the one-day extension was agreed upon “under the same previous terms.”
“The Palestinian and Israeli sides had reached an agreement to extend the humanitarian truce in the Gaza Strip for an additional day,” Mr. Al-Ansari said.
In further comments, the Qatari official said that from Qatar’s view, the negotiations continue in the hopes of reaching a permanent ceasefire in Gaza, where the Hamas terror group rules. Israel has said it will continue with its military offensive in Gaza to neutralize Hamas after the temporary pause ends.
The last-minute deal will allow one more day for negotiating deals to continue the exchange of Israeli hostages who were abducted by Hamas terrorists last month for Palestinian prisoners in Israel.
During the ceasefire, humanitarian aid has also been trucked from Egypt into war-torn Gaza, where 2.3 million people were evacuated amid airstrikes and a military offensive in response to Hamas’ deadly rampage in southern Israel.
On Wednesday, Hamas freed 16 hostages in exchange for 30 Palestinian prisoners.
The office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday that Hamas had provided a new list of women and children hostages for release. Their families have been notified, per the statement.
“A short while ago, Israel received a list of women and children, in accordance with the terms of the agreement, and therefore the pause will resume,” the statement said.
An Israeli official reiterated on Wednesday that the ceasefire would continue for one additional day for every 10 Israeli hostages released.
Hamas said earlier that Israel had refused their offer of releasing seven women and children and the bodies of three dead hostages in the 10 it would release.
Hamas blamed the deaths of the three Israeli hostages, a family including the youngest hostage, 10-month-old Kfir Bibas, on Israel’s bombardment of the enclave.
Before the agreement, both Israel and Hamas had said they were ready to resume fighting.
According to a Reuters tally, 97 hostages have been freed since the start of the truce. The Israeli military says 145 hostages remain in Gaza.
On Wednesday night, two Russian citizens and four Thai citizens were released outside the framework of the agreement, while the 10 Israeli citizens freed included five dual nationals, officials said. They were a Dutch dual citizen, who is also a minor, three German dual citizens, and one U.S. dual citizen.
Israel has sworn to eliminate Hamas after the terrorist group’s deadly Oct. 7 attack. Israel has said that during the deadly rampage, Hamas gunmen killed 1,200 people and took 240 hostages.
Prior to the ceasefire, Israel conducted a seven-week bombardment of the territory, resulting in over 15,000 Palestinian casualties, according to the Hamas-led health authorities in the coastal strip.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken had arrived in Tel Aviv earlier on Thursday, local time, his third trip to the region since the Oct. 7 attack, to discuss extending the pause in fighting.
U.S. President Joe Biden was determined “to bring every hostage home and to get more aid to the innocent people of Gaza” after Israeli-American Liat Beinin was freed on Wednesday, the White House said in a statement.
The United States is urging Israel to narrow the combat zone and specify safe areas for Palestinian civilians during Israeli operations in southern Gaza, aiming to avoid a repeat of the high death toll in the north.
On Wednesday, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned of an “epic humanitarian catastrophe” in the Gaza Strip, advocating for a ceasefire to replace the temporary truce.
Reuters contributed to this report.