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Israel, Hamas agree to extend truce, more int’l mediation in place

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Doha/Gaza: With the four-day truth expiring on Tuesday, Israel and Hamas have agreed to extend the pause by two days, said a Qatari foreign ministry spokesperson on Monday.

“The State of Qatar announces, as part of the ongoing mediation, an agreement has been reached to extend the humanitarian pause for an additional two days in the Gaza Strip,” the spokesperson said on X, formerly Twitter.

Deeming the extension as “a glimpse of hope and humanity in the middle of the darkness of war,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said, “I strongly hope that these will enable us to increase even more the humanitarian aid to the people in Gaza that (are) suffering so much.”

On Monday, the last day of the Israel-Hamas truce, Israel confirmed that Hamas released another 11 captives in the Gaza Strip, while 33 Palestinians released by Israel arrived early Tuesday in the West Bank town of Ramallah.

Israel Defense Forces (IDF) special forces and Israel Security Agency (ISA) forces are currently accompanying 11 released hostages in Israeli territory, the statement read. “After they undergo an initial medical assessment, our forces will escort them until they are reunited with their families.”

They were released 52 days after being taken hostage by Hamas militants in their deadly attack on southern Israel on Oct. 7. Of the about 240 hostages captured by Hamas, less than one-third have been released so far, according to IDF figures.

Under the original four-day truce deal, Hamas will release 50 Israelis in exchange for some 150 Palestinians from Israel. The humanitarian pause in the Gaza Strip entails a cessation of hostilities and an increased flow of aid trucks carrying relief supplies and fuel through the Rafah crossing.

Hamas said in a statement to Xinhua that the extension of the truce will be carried out “under the same conditions as listed in the previous cease-fire deal.”

Over the weeks since the Israel-Hamas fighting began, Qatar has played a crucial role in facilitating the truce, while more international efforts of mediation are coming soon.

As the rotating president of the UN Security Council for November, China will hold a Security Council high-level meeting on the Palestinian-Israeli issue on Wednesday. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi will travel to New York to chair the meeting.

China expects the UN Security Council to fulfill its primary responsibility for maintaining international peace and security, and to play a constructive role, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said at a daily press briefing on Monday.

China hopes that by holding the high-level meeting, all parties can promote in-depth exchanges and build consensus, take concrete actions and make due contribution to easing the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, realizing a ceasefire and cessation of fighting, protecting civilians and ultimately promoting a comprehensive, just and lasting solution to the Palestinian question through the two-state solution, said the spokesperson.

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