Israel and Hamas reached an agreement to extend the temporary cease-fire in Gaza for a seventh day, the Qatari government announced early Thursday, not long before the previous two-day extension was set to expire.
While the truce has held in Gaza, pausing the brutal war sparked by Hamas’ unprecedented Oct. 7 terror attack on Israel, violence in the other Palestinian territory, the Israeli-occupied West Bank, and in Jerusalem was keeping tension high on Thursday, CBS News reports.
Israeli police said three people were killed in a shooting attack on a crowded Jerusalem bus stop, which a far-right member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet, National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, quickly blamed on Hamas.
“These are apparently Hamas operatives, who speak here with two voices — one voice of a so-called cease-fire and a second voice of terror,” Gavir told reporters at the scene of the attack, reported BBC News. Police said the two gunmen were killed by Israeli soldiers at the scene.
Just hours earlier, Majed Al-Ansari, the spokesperson for Qatar’s foreign ministry, said in a statement that the cease-fire between Israel and Hamas would continue for at least one more day under the same parameters established last week, which would sees Hamas free another group of hostages and Israel release another group of Palestinian prisoners. Several hundred more humanitarian aid trucks would also be allowed to enter Gaza during the extended truce.
In a post to social media Thursday morning, Israel Defense Forces (IDF) wrote that, given ongoing mediation efforts towards the potential release of more Hamas-held hostages, the “operational pause” in the fighting in Gaza would continue.
During the cease-fire, Israeli intelligence has received a list every day of the names of the hostages who are expected to be released by Hamas. In a statement early Thursday, Netanyahu’s office said it was provided a “list of women and children” in accordance with the terms of the agreement, and therefore the truce will continue.”
The short-term cease-fire between the two sides began Nov. 24. It was initially slated for four days, but was extended for another two. That extension had been set to expire at 7 a.m. local time (midnight Eastern) on Thursday before it was extended again for a seventh day.
Frantic talks had been held in Doha Wednesday involving Qatari, Egyptian and US mediators in an effort to try to extend the pause, with both Israel and Hamas indicating they would be open to another deal.
Under the current arrangement, about three Palestinian prisoners are being released in the West Bank for every one hostage freed. The hostages released so far have only been women and children, but it is possible that men could be included in a future deal.
Tension in the West Bank, where the freed prisoners have been welcomed by large crowds cheering their release and, in some cases, waving Hamas flags, has risen this week, meanwhile. Two Palestinian boys, eight and 15 years old, were killed by IDF forces during a raid on West Bank town of Jenin on Wednesday, Palestinian health officials said. Security video showed a small group of boys running, and one falling to the ground, bleeding.
The IDF said troops had opened fire on people throwing explosives at them, but it did not mention the children specifically, who were not seen throwing anything in the surveillance video. The military said troops killed two Islamic Jihad militants during the raid in Jenin.
The temporary cease-fire in the densely-packed Palestinian enclave has enabled the release of dozens of hostages, been widely lauded by the international community, and there was no indication that it would be derailed by the ongoing clashes and violence outside Gaza.
Sixteen hostages, including an American woman, were freed by Hamas Wednesday, bringing the total number of Hamas-held hostages released since the cease-fire began to about 100. Some 210 Palestinians have been released from Israeli prisons in return, including 30 Palestinians on Wednesday, Qatar said.
Netanyahu said on Wednesday that after all the hostages are returned by Hamas, Israel’s operations in Gaza would resume.