Israel and Hamas agree to extend Gaza ceasefire for another day
The big picture: The announcement came just minutes before the temporary truce was set to end.
Driving the news: Negotiators held intense talks on Tuesday and Wednesday in an effort to reach an agreement on the second extension of the pause in fighting. The Biden administration at the highest levels has been heavily involved in the hostages negotiations, which are being mediated by Qatar and Egypt.
- Prior to the announcement of the extension, Israeli officials said Hamas did not produce a list of women and children who could be freed under the agreed-upon criteria if the ceasefire was extended by another day.
- Hamas claimed Israel refused its offer to release seven women and children and the bodies of three others who were taken hostage and died in Gaza. The militant group had said these were all the women and children it was able to locate. Some hostages are being held by Islamic Jihad and other groups in Gaza.
The Israeli war cabinet had voted unanimously on Wednesday night that if Hamas by 7 am local time did not produce a list of hostages under the agreed-upon criteria, the fighting would resume.
- But "shortly before 7 am," Israel received a list of women and children who could be freed on Thursday, the Israeli Prime Minister's Office said.
- An Israeli official said the new list includes eight women and children, not 10 like in previous days.
- The official said the two Israeli Russians who were unilaterally released on Wednesday by Hamas as a gesture to Russian President Vladimir Putin will be counted as part of Thursday's release. The official claimed that at first, Hamas wanted to release five women and children and three bodies but after Israel refused, it agreed to add three more women to the list.
- Senior Israeli officials said the list arrived after the military had increased its alert ahead of a possible resumption of hostilities.
- "Hamas agreed in the morning to what [it] didn't agree to overnight," one of the officials said. "We were tough and they realized we are serious."
State of play: Hamas has freed more than 95 hostages, including two Americans, while Israel has released 210 Palestinians from Israeli jails over the pause in fighting, which will now stretch into its seventh day. Israel has also allowed more aid trucks and fuel into Gaza to help address the dire humanitarian crisis.
- More than 240 people, including several Americans, were abducted during the Oct. 7 terrorist attack. At least 1,200 people were killed in the attack, according to Israeli officials. Prior to the pause in fighting, four hostages, including two Americans, were freed, one was rescued and two others were found dead.
Zoom in: The pause in fighting has offered a short reprieve to the more than 2.2 million Palestinians living in Gaza who had been under Israel's heavy bombardment since the war began.
- More than 14,800 Palestinians have been killed, according to the Ministry of Health in Hamas-run Gaza.
- Aid groups have welcomed the increased aid levels but have also warned that it is only a fraction of what is needed to address the dire humanitarian crisis in Gaza.
What to watch While calls are growing worldwide for a permanent ceasefire, Israel has vowed to continue the war "with full military power" after the humanitarian pause in fighting ends.
- "We will fight in the entire Strip," Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said this week. Israel has said its goal in the war is to "destroy" Hamas and bring home all the hostages.
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.