Israel-Hamas renew hostage swap deal

Jerusalem: A truce between Israel and Hamas-ruled was extended on Thursday just before it was due to expire, the two sides announced, with mediator Qatar reporting it would continue for one day under the same conditions that saw hostages released in exchange for prisoners.

Minutes before the halt in fighting was due to expire at 0500 GMT, Israel’s military said the truce would be prolonged.

“In light of the mediators’ efforts to continue the process of releasing the hostages and subject to the terms of the framework, the operational pause will continue,” it said.

The prime minister’s office subsequently confirmed the extension, saying it had received a new list of hostages.

“A short time ago, Israel was given a list of women and children in accordance with the terms of the agreement, and therefore the truce will continue,” it said, without specifying the number of captives to be freed.

Hamas said there was an agreement to “extend the truce for a seventh day,” without further details.

It had earlier said Israel initially refused to extend the truce after it offered to hand over seven hostages and the bodies of three more.

Qatar, which has led the truce negotiations supported by Egypt and the United States, confirmed the pause had been extended for a day “under the same previous conditions.”

The announcement came hours after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Israel on Wednesday night, and with growing pressure for an extension of the pause.

The truce agreement has brought a temporary halt to fighting that began on October 7 when Hamas militants broke through Gaza’s militarised border into Israel, killing 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and kidnapping about 240, according to Israeli authorities.